Intro A B C D E F G H I-J-K L M N-O P-Q R S T U-Z Credits

A Drinkers Lament

When I was young in this town,
more years than I care to remember,
pubs and inns did abound
on every street and corner.

We carried on that war-time custom
of pub-to-pub crawl.
We trod the length of Bridge Street-
but we never drank in ‘em all!

Each inn and tavern had its character
and so did all the bar-staff.
The beer tasted different from place to place
at a shilling for a half.

The Ram the Mitre and the Bell,
The Spotted Dog and Swan
fallen, have all these pubs,
into memory they’ve long gone.

But, oh! what memories we all have
of pubs and inns long past,
and recollections of those faces that,
peopled those old bars!

Thank God those old boys that we knew
didn't live to see what’s done-
the knocking down or the tarting up
of good pubs one by one!

So now we're left, and so bereft
of the pubs we used to drink in!
The Signs have gone - the pubs have gone
and Theme Pubs are the in thing!

So drink deep, and drink long
on ale that claims it's true,
and try to remember now and then
when pubs were real too!

J. A. Small 1993.


In a couple of the old Directories, the Northampton Directory 1878 and Deacon's Directory 1890 there are price lists for the Phoenix Brewery and P. Phipps & Co. Respectively. Here are a few examples:-

No.10 Ale Extra Strong   2/- (Old money)
No.4 Light Ale   10d
XX Porter   1/2d

XX Households   1/-
NBC Imperial Stingo   2/-
E.D.S. Extra Stout   1/6d

The prices seem cheap enough, but then you realise that they are for a gallon and it's delivered free! For those who are too young or have forgot the old money there was 240 pennies in a pound and 12 pennies in a shilling, 20 shillings to the pound. Prices such as, 1/4d meant one shilling and four pence, 36s equalled one pound and sixteen shillings and could be written - £1..16s..0d. A new penny (1p) is equivalent to 2.4d. For example, the wage in the boot and shoe trade around the 1890s; for a machine minder, was about £1 or 20/-, whilst a skilled man, such as a clicker would get about £1..10s..0d or 30/- (£1.50p).

New Pubs and Name Changes

The cut off date for pubs in this book is 1993 and the final draft has been written now, in 2010. In the almost seventeen years since I started to assemble the material into a book many new pubs have appeared (and disappeared!) and several old pubs have changed their names, sometimes more than once. This appendix is an attempt to keep track of some of them – it’s not exhaustive because, frankly things move so fast these days I just haven’t had the time or inclination to keep track of what in many cases are little more than short lived drinking barns.

Although some name changes and new names have been awful, in my opinion there are a few good ones. For example within the book itself there is the Green Man becoming the Thomas A Becket (McManus) and the Jolly Crispin becoming the Jolly Cobbler (Nolan). The reasons I think this are given under their headings within the text. I predict that in the future there will be a nostalgia reaction to all these new names and many pubs will revert to their old ones. One I have commented on is the Rat & Parrot, being a converted bank - what was it to revert to, I asked? Well, it seems to have done that recently and renamed itself the Old Bank, so it looks as if the ‘nostalgia swing’ is already taking place even with the new pubs.

One local group’s pubs that don’t appear in the main text are the Richardson Group who began to involve themselves in the licensed trade after 1993. It is only fair to mention them because by the time this is published they will have, amongst other premises, three pubs running. The first was the Charles Bradlaugh on the Mounts (1997). This past MP for Northampton is mentioned in the text under the Admiral Nelson with the reason why he makes a good choice for a sign. The Picturedrome on the Kettering Road was their next opened in what I understand was Northampton’s first purpose-built cinema (1998). The name could not be more appropriate. Finally in 2005, the Old White Hart (see text) has been refurbished and reopened as a pub once more and called - the Old White Hart! Also opened in 2005 by the Richardsons Group is The Church Restaurant at the bottom of Bridge Street. This was established around 1140 as a hospital (the forerunner of the modern pub, see intro.) and became a church in the late nineteenth century. This is the oldest secular building in the Town and it could be argued the oldest drinking house of all.

New Pubs

Most of this list and the next were prepared in March 2005. There has been an explosion of new pubs. For what it is worth here is a list of some of them.

New Names

Not only has there been many new pubs opening in the Town in the last ten years but some of the old ones (and new ones) have changed their names and as they are recent they will not appear in the main text. If you have searched for a pub in the main text and can’t find it then this list (which I am also sure is not complete) may help.

Sources and Picture Credits


Cox. J.C. 1898 The Records of the Borough of Northampton.
Northampton, The Borough of Northampton. (RBN 1898 in text).

Rev. W. D. Sweeting (ed.) 1886-1891. Northamptonshire Notes and Queries.
Northampton, John Taylor The Dryden Press (NN&Q in text, the author Taylor).

All available Northampton Street Directories from 1791 until 1973.

Other books quoted from are referred to in the text in bold Italics.

Maps and Plans

Goad’s Insurance Plans 1898-1954, copies at the Central Library (Goad's Insurance in text).

Ordnance Survey Plans, 1:500 1st Edition 1885, and 1:2500 various Editions 1985-1964, copies at the Central Library (O/S in text).

Old brewery estate department plans kept at Northamptonshire Record Office (NRO in text).

Schematic plan for the Great Election 1768, copy at the Central Library.


All relevant material held by Northamptonshire Record Office.

The local newspapers, both ancient and modern, especially the Northampton Mercury and the Chronicle & Echo.

Finally, one most important source of clues, information and stories - all the old boys (and girls) who over the years have regaled me with tales of the old pubs of Northampton Town.

Picture Credits

Northamptonshire Libraries and Information Service for the use of photograph of the Ram Hotel, drawing of the Cook's Arms and woodcut of Guy of Warwick in the Bearward Arms entry.

Northamptonshire Newspapers for the use of photographs of the Admiral Nelson, Plough hotel and Queen's Arms.

Abbreviations and Conventions

All quotations are in italics without quotation marks. References to publications are in italics and bold type. Directories usually have just the name of the Directory and the year of publication e.g. Wright 1884.

C&E = Chronicle & Echo.

BHS = Beer House Keeper (Wright’s Directory 1884).

BVM = Blessed Virgin Mary.

N.B.C. = Northampton Brewery Company.

N.D.C. = Northampton Development Corporation.

NN&Q = Northamptonshire Notes and Queries.

N.R.O. = Northamptonshire Record Office.

O/S = Ordnance Survey.

RBN = Records of the Borough of Northampton.

‘v’ = victualler (Wright’s Directory 1884).

VCH = Victorian County History.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this book under Illustrations I would like this to be Volume One, this largely being documentary information. Volume Two I would like to be the edited material supplied by you; your anecdotes, photographs documents or anything relevant to Northampton’s past pubs and those that ran them and used them.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790