COURAGES have always been a House-holding Brewery, and have invariably kept a surveyor and
building staff, which included coppersmiths, engineers, carpenters, painters, bricklayers and builders,
to attend to the houses as well as to the work at the Brewery itself. When the Company started Mr.
Edward Faux, who distinguished himself so greatly in the War, was the Surveyor, with a Staff of about
The Liquor Control Board during the War ordained shorter hours of opening, and, acting on this
experience, the Licensing Act of 1921 gave permanence to the new idea by forbidding the sale of
excisable liquors for more than 9 hours a day in London and 8 or 8½ elsewhere. A disadvantage
attending this change was the introduction of “rush hours.” The accommodation became far too small
to deal with the situation, and called for increased space to cope with it. This, combined with the
movement for improved public houses then gaining ground, necessitated enlargements and
alterations in nearly all the houses. Commander A. V. Courage, with the Surveyor, Mr. F. M. Kirby,
who had succeeded Mr. Faux, handled this difficult matter. The Surveyor’s staff of assistant surveyors
and draughtsmen was largely increased, and the building staff became one of the largest in the
Brewery. Also plans for rebuilding large additions to the Brewery itself, and for erecting new houses,
had to be prepared and carried out by the Brewery’s own staff, the contracts being put out to tender.
The licensing magistrates (many of them after years of opposition) began to realise the necessity of
improvement in Public House accommodation, and passed plans more readily than had been their
earlier custom. Large sums were set aside in reserve for the acquisition of new houses and the
improvement of existing premises. Many up-to-date houses, with every facility for catering, and with
larger and more comfortable bars and saloon lounges, were erected.
The Grove Hotel, Dulwich. Rebuilt 1924
The Tudor style of house was taken as the pattern, and the first important piece of rebuilding was the
“Grove Tavern,” Duiwich, famous as being once the residence of Lord Byron. This house, with its
gardens, bowling green, garden bar and band stand, a dancing rink and hard courts for tennis, is
considered one of the most modern houses in the south of London, and is delightful inside, with its tea
and saloon lounges, and other up-to-date appointments. The heavy expenditure entailed was soon
justified by the increase in trade. Other rebuildings followed :-The “Plough and Harrow “ at
Leytonstone; the “Beehive” at Tottenham; the “Railway Tavern” at Catford, now doing a large catering
trade; the “Royal Oak” at Green Lanes; the “ Beehive” at Ilford; the “Prince of Wales” at Hammersmith;
the “Wheatsheaf” at Camden Town, and many others.
The Brockley Jack, Brockley. Founded 1398, rebuilt 1898
The "Brockley Jack" said to be one of the six oldest Inns near London, is also worth a note. It was in
past days a resort of highwaymen (including Dick Turpin) and is named after one of them. For many
years a horse’s thigh bone was suspended on a tree outside the premises, and this grim reminder of
the past was reproduced in plaster on the top façade when the house was rebuilt by Messrs. Noakes &
Co., Ltd. in 1898.
In 2008 the pub was owned by Greene King.
But as well as town and suburban houses, country Inns were also brought within the Improved Public
House category. There is, for instance, the “Swan” at Alton, well known in coaching times, but also in
the motor era of today. It has been practically rebuilt, and with its well furnished dining rooms and
lounge, and its gardens and bowling green, is a pleasant halting place for those who take the road.
Again, the” Bush Hotel” at Farnham, with its recently discovered old mural paintings, has been entirely
rebuilt, and is now well known to all travellers.
Many houses, such as” The Crown” at Slough and” The George” at Wraysbury, “ The Otter,”
“Ottershaw,” and others in the district of Windsor have been brought up to date in a pleasing Tudor
style, and are a credit to the Company and its architects.
Much has been said in the way of abuse of the Tied house system, but “free” licensees could not have
provided the capital necessary to bring public houses up to the standard of today.
A few years ago it was difficult to obtain the permission of the licensing magistrates to enlarge licensed
premises, but now they have recognised the importance of having pleasant, clean, agreeable
surroundings for the food and drink and rest and entertainment of the public. They are gradually
coming to see in the public house, not the dingy drink shop or the flaring gin palace which formerly
existed to a regrettable extent, but a reputable place of public refreshment, fit for both sexes and all
classes, fulfilling a useful social function and adding to the amenities of life; and they see the latter
class of house coming quickly into being and displacing the squalid, or at least inadequate houses of
a former generation.
The number of houses in London belonging to the Company in 1931 was as follows:-
North of the Thames ... ... ... 187
South of the Thames ... ... ... 275
Making the large total of ... ... 462 with 11 Off Licenses.
The country houses at Alton are as follows (1932):-
Alton, Southampton, Winchester, etc. ... 77
Farnham, Aldershot and district ... 196
Windsor, Slough, etc. ... ... ... 140
making with the London houses a grand total of 886.
The Railway Tavern, Catford. Rebuilt 1930 The Beehive, Ilford. Rebuilt 1931