UK Pub History

UK Pub History

The UK is pretty synonymous with pubs, isn’t it? Although the classic, traditional pub is going through a bit of a lull at the moment they are still a hallmark of British history and will usually be the first choice for the majority of people when it comes to enjoying a drink.

Pubs as we know them today started out as inns and were developed due to the arrival Roman empire. Inns were designed to give travellers a place to drink, eat and sleep although they quickly took on the role of a community hub as well. 

While most pubs today don’t offer a place to stay or lodge much of their role as stayed the same. Pubs today are still hubs for the community and of course places to enjoy good food, drink and different forms of entertainment.

Pubs have gone through many different forms and while many things have stayed the same in some respects things have certainly changed as well. Beer houses where once very popular establishments that filled a similar role as pubs do these days.

Beer houses were introduced following the Beer Act in 1830 as a way to combat the popularity of gin in the UK. Gin was very strong and believed to be causing problems like public drunkenness, beer, on the other hand, was at the time thought to be a healthy alternative.

Of course, while we know that this isn’t exactly the case today but beer was and still is much less potent than gin. Beer was also much cheaper than many alternatives which caused it to become more popular and over time many beers houses developed into the pubs we know today.

This is only a small snapshot of how UK pubs have changed throughout history but the old saying the more things change the more they stay the same seems to apply. Let’s look at some of the more interesting parts of pub history in the UK.

The British Pub

Pub names in the UK are really something to behold, many pubs have more unusual or comedic names and many of these pubs will have had these names for quite some time. Many of these names will usually be historic takes on old slang or they might be named after famous people from that time period.

Many traditional pubs in the UK still proudly hold names they have had for decades and this is a tradition that has continued to this day. These names are also excellent for building brand awareness so even more modern pubs will usually follow suit by having more unusual names.

Even fictional pub names like those found in UK soaps are wildly known about. Another important thing to mention in relation to pub names is their signs. While not every pub these days will have a sign many still do, older pubs, in particular, will usually still have a sign.

Kind Richard the 2nd actually compelled landlords to erect signs to make alehouses more easily visible in 1393. But pubs had actually been using signs before this for the very same reason, as many people couldn’t actually read so colourful signs where an effective way of letting people know what their establishment actually was.

Pubs in the UK today come in many different shapes and sizes older pubs, in particular, are famed for their traditional architecture. Although there is often more variation than many people realise when it comes to pubs in the UK, let’s take a closer look at some of the main types of pub.

Country Pubs

Country pubs are usually older more historic pubs that are almost like centres for the community. A village pub is a place everyone in said village will know about and visit whether they drink or not. However, with pub numbers dropping in recent years the idea of a traditional country pub is getting a little outdated although many are still thriving in the UK even if they do seem more similar to a regular pub these days.


Gastropubs are pubs that put a stronger emphasis on food and it’s often argued that with the majority of pubs these days serving food of some kind that there really is no need for the term anymore. But you’ll still find many places identifying themselves as gastropubs and they are great places to enjoy a hearty meal and drink.


Micropubs are relatively new and came around due to the rise in popularity of microbrewing. They are focused on local ales and offer a very different experience to your local pub. They operate at more unusual hours and are quite rare at the moment. Although with microbrewing growing in popularity we could be seeing more of them in the future.

Pubs Today

It’s no secret that the number of pubs in the UK has been dropping year on year for some time now. The causes for this are still being hotly debated although many pubs are still thriving even in this more difficult time and some pubs like micropubs are even growing in popularity. The pubs we know of today might be changing but I think they will still be around in some form for years to come.

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