Why are London pubs so often situated on street corners, and why didn’t developers hardly ever construct pubs in the middle or halfway down a terrace?
The whole building of the pub is always divided into several sections: saloon or lounge, parlour, public bar, snug, counter, and beer engine. Most of the time, one side is allocated for a saloon or lounge, while the public bar is exactly that. The parlour or saloon is mostly reserved for business persons, and they used to sit here with a modicum of privacy and discuss business matters, away from the riff-raff in the public section. In addition, many public houses also provided limited accommodation and a beer garden.
Landowners controlled large pieces of land and worked with developers through the leasehold system. The landowners let plots out to the developers, who paid for the construction of long terraces, and the developers borrowed to pay construction costs.
The pubs, therefore, were built first to house, feed and water the builders. In the worst case, the pub and its licence could be flogged off to pay for finishing the terrace.
The developer could lend building money to plumbers, glaziers and construction workers who’d do the work on each other’s homes for free – so everybody won. And the pub remained on the corner after they’d all finished, ready to provide them with a social focus. Thus the pub was there first and last, throughout the lives of those who lived in the terraces.
Odd fact: Griffin Park, where Brentford FC play, is the only football ground with pubs at all four corners.
The Bag o’ Nails on the corner of Lower Grosvenor Place by Alan Hughes (CC BY-SA 2.0)