History Focus

With our celebration of National Beer Day this issue, we take a leaf out of Ken’s history book and look at Teddington’s rich drinking past, extracted from his past articles.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the rapid growths of pubs. At this time, the country was in the grips of gin consumption. It was possible to buy a pint of gin for a few pence and this had become the drink of the working classes. Needless to say, the government of the day was greatly concerned for the welfare of its people and set about weaning them off strong spirits and onto something a good deal milder. This brought about the Beerhouse Act of 1830 which enabled anyone to brew and sell beer, ale or cider, either from a public house or from their own homes, on obtaining a moderately priced licence. It must be the only time in the world where a national government has actively encouraged the drinking of beer!

Back to Teddington. Picture the village in 1800 and you will see a small establishment of about 120 houses and a population of approximately 700 people. The earliest Directories by Pigot & Co evidence only three pubs but we know of at least one other.

The first public house that we have traced was Le Queene, which was acquired in 1688 by James Cole, a member of the family of Cole’s Brewery of Twickenham. We know that it stood in the south side of the High Street but where exactly is a mystery. By the time of James’ death in 1725, the pub was known as The Queen’s Head and had passed to James’ son Edward. He continued trading and at some point, the name changed again, this time to The Three Bells. Edward died in 1775 leaving the pub to his younger brother, Thomas. It seems that Thomas had little to do with the licensed trade and ownership changed hands a few times until 1797 when the premises were leased out but only as a cottage. The Three Bells then ceased to exist and vanished without trace.

The Beer House Act of 1830 brought about many changes in the drinking habits of the community. By 1831 the population of Teddington had increased to 895 living in 200 houses. 1839 saw the opening of The Jolly Sawyer, one of the first beer houses in Teddington. By the time of the 1851 census, it had changed its name to The Queen Dowager after William IV’s widow, Queen Adelaide, who had retired to Bushy House after his death and became a very popular figure in Teddington, supporting many local causes. Set in a back street of Teddington, it was not really geared to the demands of 21st century business and closed its doors in 2011, after which it rapidly became a small block of houses.

Also in 1839 the next pub to open was The Britannia in what was then the High Street but which later became the Broad Street after the coming of the railway cut the town in two. It was built in a block known as ‘The American Buildings’, although today no-one knows why. John Sibley was the beer house keeper and sold beers and ciders. The pub continued trading through a building redevelopment of the area in the early part of the 20th century. In an attempt to attract more up-market customers, the pub changed its name to the Hogarth in the 1960s which also noted its transfer from Charringtons to Fullers.

It subsequently expanded internally and opened its garden and today features in our article on National Beer Day on p10-14.

A number of pubs from that era opened after the Beerhouse Act of 1830 but did not survive 100 years of trading. Many people have asked the reasons for this and it is difficult to give a standard answer. One factor is that most dwellings were rented tenements where two rooms up and two down was a luxury. Therefore family gatherings could not easily be accommodated in a single dwelling. Such occasions therefore took place at the pub on the corner and nearly every corner had one.

Read the full version in A Collection Of Local History Articles by Ken Howe

Ken Howe is a local historian and author of several books.


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