Saturday, 4 June 2011

Pub names

Bolton again, I'm afraid. This time a detailed analysis of pub names in the town.

The continued efforts of the authors to find quantifiable differences between full licences and beerhouses is commendable. Ultimately futile, I suspect, for reasons explained in the last post. The lines between the two had been blurred over time.

The majority of pub names have a suffix, such as the --- Arms, Hotel, Tavern. The following, compiled from a list of pub names, shows the relative frequency of these suffixes.

Inns Hotels Arms Taverns No suffix
Beerhouses 32 16 50 11 60
Full licences 3 47 19 0 33
Total 35 63 69 11 93

Although the function of the full licence as a hotel has practically ceased, yet traces of it can be found in their names—over a third of full licences are called Hotels, and only 10 per cent of them Beerhouses. Similarly, the suffix "Inn" is almost restricted to beerhouses, only three full licences being so entitled. And eleven beerhouses, but no full licences, are called Taverns.

An article on "Inn Signs" in the Worktown Evening News, March 5th, 1937, says:

In every town or village one expects to find the names of old families perpetuated, and thus inn signs are a valuable adjunct to local history. Worktown's inns do not disappoint us. . . .

And the writer goes on to quote a number of Worktown pubs called after important families, such as the Earl of Bradford, Lord Derby, the Duke of Bridgwater, and so on. In fact, the majority of pub names are connected with dead Lords, Dukes, Kings, and members of the artistocracy. As well as the 69 pubs named the so-and-so Arms, there are 37 aristocratic names or names of kings. Queen Victoria is reflected in two pubs called The British Queen, one called the Victoria British Queen, and another The Old Original British Queen, as well as two Victoria Hotels and one Victoria Inn. Three pubs are called after Nelson, and there are others, such as The Gladstone and The Napier, named after historical national figures.

The next largest category of pub names, is that of animals, the names of which appear in 49 pub titles. Some of these, such as the Ox Noble and the Blue Boar, are connected with the crests of noble families; and indeed, the connection between the hundreds of Red Lions and Black Bulls found on pub signs all over the country, and the families whose totems these were, has Jong been severed.

We have seen, earlier, the reasons for this connection between the arms of the nobility and the arms of the pub; the later historical connection of the trade union movement with the pub has not, in Worktown, shown itself in the form of many trade names for pubs—there are only 14 of these, and it is interesting to note that 13 of them are beerhouses. Of Worktown's 75 Trade Union branches today, the 40 still meeting in pubs do so without exception in pubs without trade names.

Another type of name, of which there are only a few in Worktown, is the pub called after some place in the neighbourhood. Examples of this are: The Gas Works Tavern, Forge Tavern, Tramways Hotel, Cattle Market Hotel, The Four Factories (this one is now closed down), Recreation Tavern (opposite the Recreation Ground).
"The Pub and the People" by Mass Observation, 1943 (reprinted 1987), pages 87 - 89.

Places called something Hotel that didn't offer accommodation. There's something that rings a bell. Newark had plenty of pubs with Hotel in the name that were really just pubs. I'd never associated the suffix with full licences.

I'd also never made the connection between the trade union movement and pubs with names like the Brass Moulders (a favourite pub of mine in Hunslet, when I lived in Leeds). I suppose it's obvious enough. Just never reall thought about it. Like so many other things.

That's sort of what the whole book "The Pub and the People" is about. Analysing everyday things which you usually pay little heed.


Thomas Barnes said...

"The Gas Works Tavern," what an outstanding marketing failure! It sounds like something from Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch.

@ Ron: I assume you know this, but at least in some parts of the U.K. pubs called the "[trade name] arms" actually derive their names from the arms one of the local trade guilds. Some of these guilds, and associated arms, date to the Middle Ages, although the pubs themselves might be considerably newer.

Believe it or not, guilds still exist, although their role is mostly ceremonial and charitable these days. In some cases, there have even been new guilds founded. For example, the London Information Technologists Company:

They even have their own arms:

The Information Technologists Arms; now that's a pub I'd frequent!

Barm said...

The Four Yorkshiremen sketch was actually written for At Last The 1948 Show by Cleese, Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman, so can be called proto-Python at best, although the Monty Python live version of 1979 is of course the most famous performance of it.

Birkonian said...

How many pubs have the name Devonshire (Arms), Cavendish or Three Stags? All refer to the same noble family.