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The Pubs, Inns and Beer Houses of BrentfordThe following two sections are taken from a document prepared by Jim Storrar in 2017 which he has generously shared. The document is 83 pages long and rather too complex to break down into units for publication here. However you can download the PDF: be aware that it is 83 pages long and 8MB so may take a few minutes - download.
The Introduction follows and also a list of the establishments which are mentioned in Jim's piece; some have more than a page devoted to them, with illustrations, in other cases a solitary reference captures the existence of a particular pub or beer house. The document also includes maps showing the location of each place and source references: it is planned to add the maps to this site in the future.
This site has a range of information about Brentford's pubs, see Occupations section - landlord for further links.
IntroductionThe general history of the development of public houses has been well documented elsewhere. Although ale had been drunk since the Bronze Age, formal drinking establishments probably originated when tabernae (taverns) were set up at points along the road network built by the Romans from the 1st century.
As well as providing facilities for travellers and pilgrims, inns traditionally acted as community gathering places. In Brentford the heyday of inns such as The Three Pigeons and The Coach and Horses was during the 18th and early 19th centuries when travel on horseback and in horse-drawn coaches was at its height.
The consumption of gin, introduced from Holland in 1586, eventually gave rise to a new kind of establishment where customers were served at a bar and they drank standing up. Partly to discourage the drinking of gin the Beerhouse Act of 1830 allowed any householder to sell beer and cider on the payment of a two guinea fee to the Excise. The number of beer shops then grew very rapidly in areas such as Brentford and concern about this situation led to the passing of the 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act which was designed to curtail the number of outlets. All drinking establishments, including beer shops were then brought under the control of local magistrates.
However many houses that did not obtain a full licence managed to continue in business providing that the house conformed to all legislation and was kept orderly. These continued to simply sell beer and cider. Despite the 1869 Act the number of pubs increased during the latter part of the 19th century and this was when many of the ornate and lavishly furnished Victorian pubs were built. In the early years of the 20th century, alcohol consumption grew at a much slower rate and many establishments went out of business. By 1915 the brewers owned 95% of all the pubs.
In more recent years many of Brentford’s drinking establishments have disappeared, the victims of changing social habits, alternative sources of cheaper alcohol, and the value of many sites for redevelopment, particularly for flats.
Brentford had long been notorious for its large number of drinking establishments and the deleterious effects on both residents and visitors. In 1776 it was noted that Brentford "is extremely full of inns and public houses". In 1863 the Bishop of London said that "he was riding through Old Brentford the other day; and his son, who was with him, counted forty-two public house on one street". [The Church of England Temperance Magazine, March 1863]
In 1870 a commentator wrote of Brentford that "an overwhelming wretchedness, unsurpassed even in the east of London, pervades the whole town, mainly attributable, it must be acknowledged, to an almost universal habit of intemperance … I have it on the authority of the chief manager of the gas factory that the weekly beer bill of not a few, whose average wage is about 35 shillings, amounts to 25 shillings". [A New Display of the Beauties of England, Robert Goadby, 1776; Journal of the Society of Arts, Volume 18, 1870]
In 1873 another visitor to Brentford wrote that "the number of public-houses seems something astounding. I was told that some hundreds of pounds are left in the town every Saturday night by the topers from this and surrounding parishes … no modern bench of licensing magistrates would sanction the existing state of things in Brentford, which in respect of the number of drinking-places is a disgrace to the county". [The Leisure Hour, Volume 22, printed by W. Stevens, 1873]
In 1874 the total combined population of Old Brentford, New Brentford and Brentford End was less than 11,000 and yet there were 96 licensed and unlicensed drinking premises in this area and a small adjoining part of Ealing. "In Old Brentford £20,220 is spent annually on drink and only £1,000 on education, the average per head being £3 on drink and 3 shillings on education". [The Temperance Record, No. 926, 3rd January 1874]
Brentford pubs A-ZArranged in alphabetical order, the pubs that are still operating today are highlighted in red.
The Albany Arms, 17 Albany Road
Page published May 2018