Watney’s Pubs of 1966–67: Failsworth, Harlington, Lambeth, Stevenage, Wythenshawe

The leather bottle.

We continue to keep our eyes peeled for old in-house magazines from British breweries and most recently acquired a copy of Watney’s Red Barrel from February 1967.

It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly rich in pic­tures of mod­ern pubs, from Man­ches­ter to Lon­don. Let’s start with a trip to Wythen­shawe, a place we stud­ied in some depth when research­ing 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub, where we find the Fly­ing Machine and the Fir­bank.

The Fly­ing Machine was designed by Fran­cis Jones & Sons and built near Man­ches­ter Air­port, with “inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion fea­tur­ing vin­tage air­craft with some attrac­tive prints of biplanes”. Is it still there? Yes! But now it’s called the Tudor Tav­ern.

The Fir­bank was designed by A.H. Broth­er­ton & Part­ners and that’s about all the infor­ma­tion the mag­a­zine gives. That con­crete mur­al looks inter­est­ing, at any rate. The pub is still going, and award-win­ning, but has been the cen­tre of dra­ma in recent years with drug deal­ers attempt­ing to black­mail the pub­li­can.

The Brookdale, Failsworth.

Sad­ly there’s no exte­ri­or image of the Brook­dale in Failsworth, only this image of S.H. Thread­g­ill, M.D. of Wat­ney’s sub­sidiary Wilson’s, receiv­ing a pint pulled by foot­baller Bob­by Charl­ton. This pub has been knocked down to make way for hous­ing.


The Long Ship pub in Stevenage.

The Danish Bar at the Long Ship pub.

Phwoar! The Long Ship in Steve­nage is a pub we first noticed in the back­ground of a scene in the 1968 film Here We Go Round the Mul­ber­ry Bush. It was the first Wat­ney Mann pub in the Hert­ford­shire new town and occu­pied the base of the South­gate House office block.

It has a real­ly inter­est­ing archi­tec­tur­al pedi­gree: that great gor­geous mur­al is by William Mitchell, a sculp­tor cur­rent­ly enjoy­ing a revival. It was six­ty feet long and depict­ed Vikings return­ing to their home­land after a raid on Eng­land. Sad­ly it seems this mur­al was just torn off and chucked away when the pub was demol­ished.

Obvi­ous­ly the bars in the pub were the Viking bar and (pic­tured above) the Dan­ish lounge and grill room.

The archi­tect was Barnard Reyn­er of Coven­try.


The Gibraltar pub near Elephant & Castle in London.

The Gibral­tar in St George’s Road, Lon­don SE1, near Ele­phant and Cas­tle, also has a name design­er attached: archi­tect E.B. Mus­man, who made his name with grand Art Deco designs in the 1930s, such as the Comet at Hat­field and the Nags Head in Bish­ops Stort­ford. It replaced a Vic­to­ri­an gin palace on the same site. Mus­man actu­al­ly went to Gibral­tar to make the sketch­es on which the sign was based.

In recent years it became a Thai restau­rant before being demol­ished in 2012–13 to make way for, you guessed it, yup­pie flats.

Interior of the Jolly Marshman, Abbey Estate, London SE2.

Still in Lon­don we have the Jol­ly Marsh­man on the Abbey Estate, Lon­don SE2. There’s no exte­ri­or shot in the mag­a­zine, only this image of the bar with “bas­ket­work light shades and, cen­tre back, the colour­ful mur­al of a ‘marsh­man’”. It was designed by J. Barnard of L.D. Tom­lin­son & Part­ners.  It has gone.


The Gamekeeper, Harlington.

Out at the end of the Pic­cadil­ly Line near Heathrow Air­port some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent was afoot in the form of the Game­keep­er, the fourth of Wat­ney’s Schooner Inns. It was a restau­rant sup­pos­ed­ly in the shape of a pheas­ant built behind an exist­ing old pub of that name. It was a steak­house with seat­ing for 82 peo­ple. The archi­tect was Roy Wil­son-Smith who also designed the more famous Wind­sock at Dun­sta­ble. Aston­ish­ing­ly, this one still seems to exist – worth a pil­grim­age, we reck­on.


The pic­ture at the very top of this post offers a bare glimpse of anoth­er Schooner Inn, the Leather Bot­tle in Edg­ware, which appar­ent­ly closed in 2002.

3 thoughts on “Watney’s Pubs of 1966–67: Failsworth, Harlington, Lambeth, Stevenage, Wythenshawe”

  1. The Gibral­tar was where we drank while study­ing at the Lon­don Col­lege of Print­ing in 1992/3 – used to sell Twiglets and very cheap Space Raider-type snacks which did­n’t mix well with large quan­ti­ties of the McE­wans Lager it sold. Used to play host to the great and good of British jour­nal­ism on Mon­days as that’s where we retired to after evening lec­tures – I dis­tinct­ly remem­ber Alas­tair Camp­bell sup­ping on an orange juice in there after a Mon­day lec­ture.

    Our course moved up to Clerken­well in 1993, and the Gib became a restau­rant maybe a year or so lat­er.

  2. Although I think the Long Ship has its charms, I can see that its lack of win­dows would be a deter­ent to some. Places that hav ebeen designed specif­i­cal­ly to attract women (All Bar One etc) have plen­ty of win­dows, so you can see who’s in there before you go in.

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