Now that summer is here, what better place to spend it than in a pub, with a drink of your choice? If you were to have this drink in Metro-land, what kind of pub would you find? The public house, like many buildings in Metro-land, was a mixture of the traditional and the modern. Modelled on the classic English country pub, with pitched roofs and various nooks and crannies, but adding moderne streamlined corners and Art Deco motifs. This combination has the illusion of simple country living with a modern metropolitan finish. The previously sleepy villages like Wembley, Harrow, Pinner and Ruislip needed recreational facilities to cope with the population spurt they went through between 1915 and 1939. Cinemas, shops and of course Public Houses were built en masse in this period to give the newly settled citizens of Metroland somewhere to spend their leisure time.
The king of the interwar suburban pub was Ernest Brander Musman (1888-1972). Musman designed a number of public houses throughout Greater London and the home counties for Benskins of Watford, in a variety of styles. Many were the aforementioned mix of rustic and moderne, some fully streamline and others almost post modern in their mixing of eras. His two most famous pubs are the The Comet in Hatfield (1936) and the Nags Head near Bishops Stortford (1934). Both of these use the streamline moderne style to its fullest, featuring curves, and glass and steel details to bring some of the modern movement to the roadside hostelry. But most of Musman’s designs were not as radical as these pair of buildings. A better example would be the Mylett Arms (1935) in Perivale. Another pub built to serve new roads being built around the capital, this time Western Avenue, the Mylett Arms features arched windows and a pantiled roof to give a more traditional design than The Comet or Nags Head. Other Metro-land pubs by Musman include The Greyhound in Wembley, in brick with a curved frontage, his Scottish Baronial style Berkley Arms in Cranford (1932) and the stout Bull and Butcher at Whetstone (1935). After World War 2 Musman went into partnership as Musman and Cousens, producing pubs in London, Crawley and Basildon. Musman was not just a purveyor of pubs, he designed houses and schools, as well as being a noted sketch artist.
Musman was not the only designer of moderne pubs in Metro-land, as a trio of public houses testify. The Adam and Eve in Hayes, The Eastcote Arms and The Windemere in Kenton all exemplify the mixture of traditional and contemporary. The Adam and Eve on the Uxbridge Road in Hayes was built in 1938 to art deco designs by architect H. Reginald Ross for Fullers Brewery. The original interior was also in the moderne style with rounded polished wooden bars and a concrete relief above the entrance. Unlike many pubs of its era (and other eras) this pub is still standing and serving pints. The Eastcote Arms (later just The Eastcote) in South Harrow was designed in a similar style to The Adam and Eve, by the firm of Ackworth and Montague in 1939. The exterior features horizontal lines and brick detailing on corners. The Windemere, opposite South Kenton station, is a slightly different beast to The Adam and Eve and The Eastcote. Built for the Courage Brewery, the exterior features dutch style gables in brown brick and tall chimney stacks. The Grade II listed interior is decorated in an art deco style, with decorative tilework, glazed doors and wood panelling.
A slightly different take on the public house to the buildings already mentioned is the Park Royal Hotel. Built in 1936 by the firm of Welch, Lander and Day for Barclay Perkins as part of their Hanger Hill development, this hotel, bar and garage complex is situated a bit further along towards London on Western Avenue from Musman’s Mylett Arms. The exterior is restrained art deco in red and yellow-brown brick, with a curved frontage and twisted brick columns. The interior was finished in warm coloured oak plywood, bronze fittings and tiled floors. These details were removed a number of years ago and the building has been through several changes of owners and functions. A world away from the modernist designs we have been talking about is the Railway Hotel in Edgware (1931) by A.E. Sewell, the prolific in house architect for Truman Hanbury Buxton and Co. Defiantly neo-Tudor, with barge boards, half timbering and bay windows. it is currently for sale with planning permission for a hotel.
These pubs all sprung up in the interwar period as metro-land expanded into the villages around London. Their design sought to echo the traditional English country pub as well as using contemporary design styles like deco and moderne. As happened with the palatial art deco cinemas of the same period, these pubs are being demolished, converted and generally run down as the pressure for more housing spreads through Greater London. If you find yourself in one of the few surviving pubs this summer, don't forget to raise a glass to the likes of Musman and Ross who bought these buildings to the suburbs. Cheers!