Wednesday 9 March 2011

Former Pubs

Dover Castle : 1152c

An inevitable problem arises when mapping in Britain these days. How does one map dead pubs?

Pubs have been dying at an increasing tempo ever since the Beer Orders of 1989. Some of this is due to the rapacity of the 'pubcos', but much is due to cheap supermarket booze, social change in inner-city areas, and a broader range of alternative means of entertainment. Although dead pubs exist everywhere, it's the ones in inner-city areas, or suburban estates, which I notice most frequently.

Some pubs are 'zombies', having fallen into a 'close-reopen-fail-close' cycle (phrase nicked from Richard on IRC). These can often be identified by the 'run your own pub' banners outside. There are also pubs which are only slightly more alive: often remarkably difficult to work out their actual status when walking past during the day. Just occasionally one of this class of pub gets resurrected. I tend to tag all such pubs as ordinary pubs, but if currently closed will add "(closed)" after the name. I do this for two reasons: an amazing number do show a triumph of hope over experience, and re-open; and, secondly, pubs are important navigational landmarks. The Target roundabout at Northolt on the A40 is a good example of the latter, even though the pub closed in 1986 when it was converted to a burger bar.

Once the pub sign has gone and all the windows are boarded up then I'm willing to accordingly change the tagging to amenity=dead_pub or similar. Usually such pubs either change use, or get demolished. Local to Nottingham they've turned into supermarkets (two Tesco Express stores : the Jolly Higglers, 17/21st Lancers), Indian restaurants (The Poachers Tavern now the Gurkha Kitchen) and mosques (Le Grand, Hyson Green , and possibly The Boulevard). The A610, Nuthall Road, has a large number of recently demolished pubs, typically they are replaced by housing. Other recent housing developments include : Cremorne Drive is a private gated road in The Meadows on the site of the Cremorne Hotel; Beaumont Square has been built on the site of The Wollaton Arms.

Robin Hood, Pinkneys Green : 17402Elsewhere, the Stonor Arms in Stonor has been closed since the early 2000s, and despite recentish press coverage didn't look likely to open again last summer, but The Robin Hood in Pinkneys Green sprang into life again in 2007 after being boarded-up for 6 years. So its remarkably difficult to be certain about dead pubs.

A very few remain intact as buildings but with a changed use, like The Dover Castle (photo above), now let as student accommodation. I don't know when this closed, but it was already there by the time of the 1891 census. Familiarity with an area, or close inspection of the building will reveal the former use: then it's worth recording them as building=pub.

P.S. Chris Richards (riffdesign) has some nice atmospheric photos of Radford between '70s and early 90s, including several dead pubs.


  1. hehe. amenity=dead_pub. That's my secret tag. I didn't think anyone else knew about it :-) I must do some php map hackery some time for (run by a friend of mine)

  2. Remembered you blogging about it: I had meant to put the link to Dead Pubs Society, so a good reminder.


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