Why are all the pubs going grey?

We visited a pub at the weekend which had got a lot greyer since we first saw it and realised this might be a trend.

The Langton, formerly the Langton Court Hotel, is an Edwardian suburban pub which was refurbished a couple of years ago. As can be seen from the pictures, the colourful exterior has been toned down considerably.

The Langton Court, pre-refurb.
And as The Langton in 2021.

Inside it’s a similar story, with a variety of shades ranging from salt to slate to ghost’s breath.

We probably wouldn’t have remarked on it other than the fact we happened to notice another pub in town, of a similar vintage, that has also had a grey makeover.

The Fox & Hounds in shades of grey.

And we realised, hold on – this isn’t the only example we’ve seen lately, either.

The Queen’s Head, Easton.
The White Harte, Warmley.

Our assumption is that this is about trying to attract a newer, more aspirational crowd – or, at least, not to put them off. This preference for would-be classy neutralness mirrors recent trends in home décor sometimes referred to disparagingly as ‘the grey plague’.

There’s nothing new under the sun, of course. One of the key touchpoints for interwar pub design was suburban ordinariness, the idea being that the pub should blend into suburban settings rather than announcing itself with garish paintwork and advertising signs.

Speaking personally, the grey thing doesn’t really do it for us and we’d certainly be worried if all pubs began to look exactly the same.

Having said that, a new external paint job seems like one of the least harmful ways a pub can send a signal to potential new customers without alienating the old ones: things have changed here; it’s safe.

That seems to be what’s going on with the Langton, which was formerly fairly tatty and a bit forbidding – although Ray found it perfectly decent when he visited pre-refurb. The Langton still has its skittle alley and tellies showing football, attempting to balance its identity as a community local with a more upmarket food offer. Successfully, we think.

If a bit of grey paint is the price to pay, we’ll deal with it.