The Loss of ‘The Local’

loss local pub

The loss of the local – a quarter of London pubs have closed in the past 15 years…

…and Brent has lost 38 per cent of its pubs since 2001, says the study published by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

London has lost 1,220 pubs since 2001 as shown by an interactive map showing the net loss of public houses per London borough.

In 2001, there were 4,835 pubs in London. By 2016, this had fallen by 25 per cent to 3,615 – an average loss of 81 pubs per year. Two London boroughs reported a loss of more than half of their pubs; Barking and Dagenham (a loss of 56 per cent) and Newham (52 per cent).

Brent, the local authority with the highest Irish population in the UK, lost 45 of the 120 pubs in the same period. This left the borough with 75 pubs, a decrease of 38 per cent since 2001.

loss local pub

Other badly-affected boroughs include Croydon (45 per cent), Waltham Forest (44 per cent), Hounslow (42 per cent) and Lewisham (41 per cent). Hackney, the only borough that did not report an overall loss – saw an increase of three per cent since 2001.

Scroll down for LONDON PUB FACTS

The audit of London’s public houses is part of the Mayor’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan for 2030, which will identify what is needed in order to sustain London’s future as a cultural capital. The plan will take into account a wide range of cultural assets, from dance studios to theatres and artist studios to nightclubs, with a view to embedding culture into the forthcoming London Plan in a similar way to other vital services, such as housing and transport.


A recent survey of international visitors to London revealed 54 per cent visited a pub during their stay in the capital, underlining pubs’ great cultural importance to the city and their deep connection with English culture.

The decline of the number of pubs in the capital is caused by several factors: rises in business rates, conflicts with residents and developers and the relaxation of permitted development rights in 2015 – which allow certain types of development to go ahead without planning permission.

loss local pub

As part of his commitment to the capital’s pubs, Sadiq has committed to working together with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to undertake an annual audit to slow or halt the current rate of closures in the city. Pubs are intrinsic to London’s culture and a vital economic driver, providing the first taste of work for many young people, generating one in six of all new jobs for 18-24 year olds.

Although the number of pubs in the capital has fallen sharply, employment in pubs has grown by 3,700 to reach 46,300 in 2016, an increase of 8.7 per cent.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The Great British Pub is at the heart the capital’s culture. From traditional workingmen’s clubs to cutting- edge micro-breweries, London’s locals are as diverse and eclectic as the people who frequent them.

“That’s why I’m shocked at the rate of closure highlighted by these statistics, and why we have partnered with CAMRA to ensure we can track the number of pubs open in the capital and redouble our efforts to stem the rate of closures.

“From the outset of my Mayoralty, I’ve made safeguarding and growing the night-time economy a key priority and this simply isn’t possible without a thriving pub scene.”

“Pubs play a vital part in many people’s lives, providing a place to meet and socialise and feel part of a community,” said Greater London CAMRA Regional Director, Geoff Strawbridge.

loss local pub

“Yet London pubs are under enormous threats, notably from increasing business rates, high alcohol duties and property speculation. CAMRA has welcomed the opportunity to work with the Mayor in monitoring pub closures in the capital, and hopes this initiative will continue to draw attention to the plight of London pubs.”

The Mayor’s so-called Night Czar, London’s first ever official appointment to protect nightlife and social businesses, Amy Lamé, has launched a public consultation on Culture And The Night Time Economy, which contains guidance on how boroughs across the city can use the current London Plan to protect public houses from closure. It encourages boroughs to implement the Agent of Change principle – putting the onus on developers that build properties next to pubs to pay for soundproofing, ensuring residents and revellers can co-exist peacefully.

Culture And The Night Time Economy is open to hear submissions from the public until the end of this month, Wednesday 31 May. More information is available at

London Pub Facts

• Five tube stations are named after pubs (Swiss Cottage, Royal Oak, Manor House, Angel and Elephant & Castle)
• Maida Vale is named after a pub (the Heroes of Maida)

loss local pub
• Other areas named after pubs include Fitzrovia (Fitzroy Tavern), Nag’s Head in Holloway, Baker’s Arms in Waltham Forest, New Cross in Lewisham, White Hart Lane in Tottenham.
• According to tradition, Pimlico is named after Ben Pimlico, a publican “famous for his nut brown ale”

History and heritage of London’s pubs

• Ye Olde Watling is reputed to have been built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1666 for workers on his St Paul’s Cathedral and constructed with wood from old ships timbers. He used one of upper rooms as his drawing office during the building of St Paul’s. He also put up The Olde Bell on Fleet Street which was used ny his stonemasons.
• Samuel Pepys watched The Great Fire of London from The Anchor pub on Bankside. Samuel Johnson used to drink at The Anchor regularly, as well as Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street (which Mark Twain and Dickens also frequented)

loss local pub
The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead

• Dick Turpin used to drink at The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead and at The Flask in Highgate, as did the Romantic poets Byron, Shelley and Keats. The Spaniards also features in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Turpin’s pistols were said to hang over the bar • Gladstone frequented The Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, while Charles II used to take his mistress Nell Gwynn for dinner at The Dove in Hammersmith
• The Mayflower in Rotherhithe was the stopping point for the pilgrim fathers as they emigrated to America. The Mayflower (the boat) docked outside the pub, then called The Shippe, before it went via Plymouth to America

loss local pub
The Old Bank of England

• The Old Bank of England still has the original vaults belonging to the Bank of England hidden in its cellar which held gold bullion and also the Crown Jewels during the First World War
• During the Second World War, The French House and De Hems in Soho were meeting places for the French Resistance, including Charles de Gaulle
• Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in the Red Lion pub in Soho. Lenin used to drink at The Crown Tavern other patrons included Peter O’Toole and Diana Dors.

Cultural heritage of London’s pubs

• Charles Dickens frequented many pubs in London including the Lamb and Flag on Conduit Street (which Dryden also favoured), The George and Vulture (mentioned in The Pickwick Papers), the One Tun (which inspired Bill Sykes’ pub in Oliver Twist); and The Grapes, which is now owned by actor Sir Ian (Gandalf) McKellen

loss local pub
Lamb and Flag

• Turner sketched views of the Thames from the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping
• Orwell drank in The Dog and Duck in Soho, as did John Constable and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The Newman House in Soho was the inspiration for the underclass pub in George Orwell’s 1984
• Dylan Thomas used to drink at The Fitzroy Tavern in Bloomsbury when he worked at the BBC (as did Orwell). TS Eliot and the 1930s literary set drank in the nearby Marquis of Granby on Rathbone Street, Soho
• The Black Friar on Blackfriars Bridge, was saved from demolition by the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman


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