Bottle & Jug

One night last week, guided by The Buildings of England, we made our way to the Shakespeare in Redland, Bristol, and gazed upon the ghost of its Bottle & Jug.

Bot­tle & Jug was a phrase we did­n’t know six years ago which is why we found this odd­ly arranged his­toric sign on the side door of The Crown in Pen­zance so baf­fling – ‘Bot­tle Bar & Jug? Eh?’

Jug & Bottle sign at the Crown, Penzance.
Sor­ry this pho­to is so crap. It’s only from 2011.

We were being dim, of course – it’s Bot­tle & Jug, and then Bar. Here’s how Fran­cis W.B. Yorke explains it in his man­u­al for pub design­ers from 1949:

The out-door depart­ment, some­times called ‘off licence’ or ‘off sales’, and for­mer­ly known as ‘jug and bot­tle’ depart­ment, is set aside for the sale of intox­i­cat­ing drinks ‘to be con­sumed off the premis­es’, and by law may not be used (as for­mer­ly) for the con­sump­tion of drink. It may be planned off the gen­er­al servery, or as a sep­a­rate unit. It must be in direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the street, quite shut off from drink­ing areas, and con­tain no seat­ing. It is the only pub­lic room a child under the age of four­teen may enter.

The Shake­speare has a fair­ly well-pre­served Edwar­dian exte­ri­or but much of the inte­ri­or has been remod­elled in 21st cen­tu­ry style with every sur­face either grey paint or bare wood, and par­ti­tions removed to make one long bar room.

There are still odd bits to enjoy, though, such as the stained glass signs for LADIES and GENTLEMEN on the toi­let doors, for exam­ple. Very help­ful­ly for rov­ing pub nerds there are also framed plans of the pub before and after its ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry rebuild.

A plan of the Shakespeare, Redland.

That’s how we spot­ted anoth­er lin­ger­ing rel­ic of the old lay­out: a nar­row cor­ri­dor of blue and white tiles run­ning from the front door up to the bar. Assum­ing they are orig­i­nal (they look it) are all that remains of the old Bot­tle & Jug. They inter­rupt the floor­boards, insist­ing upon the dis­tinc­tion between rooms that no longer exist, across the dis­tance of a cen­tu­ry.

Back before World War I, take-away cus­tomers (often kids sent by their par­ents – the cause of much wor­ry for social cam­paign­ers) would come through what is now the main door and, between pan­els pro­tect­ing their pri­va­cy, and that of sit-in drinkers, and order beer to go at the long counter which ser­viced all three parts of the pub.

It would be nice if those par­ti­tions were still there but in their absence it’s pleas­ing that the old lay­out can at least be dis­cerned with some imag­i­na­tion, like the out­lines of an Iron Age set­tle­ment vis­i­ble in the bumps and ditch­es of an Eng­lish field sys­tem.


Competition prizes: 20th Century Pub and Brew Britannia, new edition.


The win­ners are @beerfoodtravel and @claytonbrooke.

As is customary around the time a book comes out we’re going to run a little competition.

We’re going to give away two bun­dles each com­pris­ing one copy of the new book, 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub, and a copy of the new edi­tion of Brew Bri­tan­nia (small­er, not updat­ed, but cor­rect­ed).

There are two ways to enter.

1. With a Photo

The Grey Horse, Manchester.

For this part of the com­pe­ti­tion, we want you share on Twit­ter, Insta­gram or Face­book your very best pic­ture on the theme of the 20th cen­tu­ry Eng­lish pub using the hash­tag #20thCenturyPub.

Inter­pret that theme as lib­er­al­ly or cre­ative­ly as you like.

We’re after evoca­tive images, not nec­es­sar­i­ly the most tech­ni­cal­ly accom­plished.

We’ll look at all the con­tenders we’ve received by mid­night on Tues­day 12 Sep­tem­ber and declare a win­ner on Wednes­day 13. (See T&Cs below.)

2. With 100 Words

A pen on a table next to a beer mat and glass.

If you’re not so handy with a cam­era, try writ­ing. For this, we’re after 100 words (give or take 10–15 either way) on the same top­ic as above – that is, the 20th cen­tu­ry Eng­lish pub.

It can be a mem­o­ry, an anec­dote, a pen por­trait, or what­ev­er else you like.

We don’t care about spelling or gram­mar – it’s just a bit of fun.

Post it as a screen­grab on Twit­ter, as a Face­book post, or on your own blog, and let us know about it how­ev­er you like. You could also post it in the com­ments below or, if you’re shy, email it direct­ly to us at

Again, we’ll look at all the con­tenders we’ve received by mid­night on Tues­day 12 Sep­tem­ber and declare a win­ner on Wednes­day 13. (See T&Cs below.)

3. Terms and Notes
  • You can enter wher­ev­er you are in the world; if some­one over­seas wins, we’ll wor­ry about postage costs then.
  • If you post on Face­book and don’t set the post vis­i­bil­i­ty to ‘Pub­lic’, we won’t be able to see it. The same also goes for private/locked Insta­gram and Twit­ter accounts.
  • Our deci­sion is final and we won’t enter into any debate over it.
  • We reserve the right to dis­qual­i­fy entries for sus­pect­ed cheat­ing, or any oth­er rea­son what­so­ev­er.
  • Once we’ve emailed the win­ners to get their postal address­es for dis­patch, they’ll have 48 hours to respond or the prize will default to anoth­er win­ner.
  • It’s only a bit of fun.

Everything We Wrote in August 2017: Lager Louts, Vapeman, Backstreet Boozers

August 2017 -- psychedelic poster design

That was a pretty decent month with lots of new stuff covering all the angles from history to tasting notes via the usual navel-gazing.

We missed a few days here and there because, e.g., we were in Lon­don for GBBF, but even then we kept up a flow of Twit­ter, Face­book and Insta­gram posts.

If you think this lot, along with quite a few Patre­on exclu­sive blog posts, is worth a cou­ple of quid a month do con­sid­er sub­scrib­ing.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Every­thing We Wrote in August 2017: Lager Louts, Vape­man, Back­street Booz­ers”

Death of the Backstreet Boozer’

The pubs we’ve lost in greatest numbers aren’t the big ones on main roads – they’re the often smaller, more intimate establishments on back streets and estates, where people actually live.

Fur­ther evi­dence to sup­port this view arrived in our Twit­ter time­line ear­li­er this week:

And this sum­ma­ry struck home with par­tic­u­lar impact:

The map ref­er­enced (irri­tat­ing­ly uncred­it­ed at first, though they’ve since apol­o­gised and giv­en him a shout out) is from Ewan’s incred­i­bly com­pre­hen­sive Lon­don pub blog Pub­ol­o­gy. Do go and explore it, and book­mark it, if you haven’t already. There are maps for many oth­er post­codes (e.g.) many of which show a broad­ly sim­i­lar pic­ture – red and yel­low dots in the back­streets, green on the arter­ies.

In the new book we give a bit of thought to how many pubs are clos­ing, and which ones, con­clud­ing that it’s easy for mid­dle class com­men­ta­tors to shrug clo­sures off because it’s not their pubs that are dis­ap­pear­ing. This is anoth­er angle on the same issue.

We know @urbanpastoral is right from our own com­pul­sive wan­der­ing: if you stick to main roads in Lon­don, or any oth­er major city, there are plen­ty of pubs. But cut back a block and the sto­ry can be quite dif­fer­ent. We’ve seen it with our own eyes – walked miles on the sec­ondary route with­out see­ing a sin­gle oper­at­ing pub, even if the build­ings remain, con­vert­ed for res­i­den­tial, retail or some oth­er use.

Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, on the same day, we came across a note of a par­lia­men­tary debate from 1961 in which one MP, William Rees-Davies, saw this com­ing:

I do not think that alco­hol is evil in itself. I find that drink­ing with meals is more ben­e­fi­cial than drink­ing with­out a meal. I do not want ‘pub’ crawl­ing to con­tin­ue. That is why I coined the word—I thought it was quite attrac­tive at the time—the ‘prub’. I believe that we shall see a social change in our time and the ‘pubs’ will become all-pur­pose restau­rants. I believe that we shall see the larg­er ‘pubs’ tak­ing over and the small­er ‘pubs’ grad­u­al­ly turn­ing in their licences.

(He was MP for Thanet, by the way, which just hap­pens to be microp­ub cen­tral.)

It all makes sense in com­mer­cial terms of course and big pubs on main roads have many advan­tages. Back­street pubs don’t get as much pass­ing trade, obvi­ous­ly. They can be a nui­sance for those who live near them, and are hard­er to police. (More on this com­ing up.) And small­er pubs espe­cial­ly, with­out room for kitchens, wait­ers, gar­dens, pushchairs, and so on, are at a par­tic­u­lar dis­ad­van­tage in the 21st cen­tu­ry.

Of course there are many, many excep­tions – Bai­ley wrote about one ear­li­er this week; and our old Waltham­stow local The Nags Head is anoth­er. It’s fun­ny, now we think of it, that those lin­ger­ing back­street pubs are often (to indulge in wishy-washy feel­ings for a moment) the nicest, being all the bet­ter for their seclu­sion and semi-secrecy.‘D

As it hap­pens in our new neigh­bour­hood, along with quite a few food-heavy ‘prubs’ on the A road, we’ve got a cou­ple of sur­viv­ing back street pubs. We’ll have to keep an eye on them. And, of course, drink in them as often as we can man­age.

20th Century Pub

The cover of 20th Century Pub.

Right, so it’s finally real – we have hard copies of the new book, as handed over in a Bristol pub last night in a vaguely cloak-and-dagger exchange.

The idea behind the book is that it tells the sto­ry of how pubs changed and devel­oped between 1900 and the present via inter-war improved pubs, post-war estate pubs, theme pubs, Irish pubs, gas­trop­ubs, microp­ubs, and so on. The tone is sim­i­lar to Brew Bri­tan­nia with per­haps a lit­tle more flair in the prose – we’ve had three years extra prac­tice, after all.

You can pre-order from Ama­zon UK now as well as var­i­ous oth­er places (list below). The offi­cial pub­li­ca­tion date is 15 Sep­tem­ber but it’s like­ly to go out ear­li­er than that.

Detail of one of the illustrations.
Detail from a 1955 illus­tra­tion by Clarke Hut­ton, secur­ing the rights to which took con­sid­er­able detec­tive work on Jo’s part.

And (fin­gers crossed) it should also be avail­able at the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val book­shop next week. Assum­ing all goes to plan, we’ll be there sign­ing copies on Tues­day after­noon (trade day) at around 1:30, and will be hang­ing about until about 7pm in case any­one miss­es that organ­ised sign­ing ses­sion. Come and say hel­lo!

Chapter header.
Dale Tom­lin­son, the design­er, is a type nerd.

It’s a very pret­ty book, if we do say so our­selves – bright, tac­tile, with lots of crisp black-and-white pho­tos, both from the archives and tak­en by us on our trav­els dur­ing 2015–2017. We’re delight­ed to say that some of the illus­tra­tions we most want­ed to include made the cut after much detec­tive work and bar­gain­ing by Joan­na Cope­stick at Home­wood Press.

Detail from a mock advertisement by Nick Tolson.
Nick Tol­son gave us per­mis­sion to repro­duce this mock adver­tise­ment from Viz com­ic as an east­er egg on the inside rear cov­er.

Here’s that list of sup­pli­ers we know of so far:

Or, if you want a signed copy sent by post, drop us a line ( and we’ll see what we can do.