Bobbies, Peelers and London pubs
I don't think Sir Robert Peel was the sort of guy who popped into his local for a swift half after a taxing (all too literally!) day in the office. He's not the obvious choice to bestow his name to a pub.
But here he is on Bishopsgate just opposite Liverpool Street Station. The tiled frontage sees to date from the 1930s. It has survived the demise of the pub it advertised. That local historian par excellence, the Gentle Author, says in his 'dead pub crawl' that this boozer flourished from 1871 to 1957.
For political historians, Peel was the brave Conservative prime minister who repealed the Corn Laws in 1846. In so doing, he split his party - and it remained out of power for a generation.
For Londoners, Peel was the reforming home secretary who established the Metropolitan Police back in 1829. His name provided not one but two nicknames for the fledgling police force - the distinctly archaic Peelers, and the still current Bobbies. How many politicians can match that!
It can't be a coincidence that this former pub in Bishopsgate is just two doors down from what was, and remains, Bishopsgate nick (though just to add a layer of confusion, Bishopsgate police station is run by the City of London force not the Met).
The likeness on the pub tiles is clearly based on John Linnell's portait of Peel from 1838,
The Bishopsgate pub is a drinking den no longer, but there are other boozers which bear Peel's name -
This distinctly traditional street-corner local is at the junction of Queen's Crescent and Malden Road in NW5 (that's Kentish Town). It's just a pity the signboard doesn't show a portrait of the Peeler-in-chief.
North London is a great place for pubs named after Victorian politicians. I have often popped in to the Palmerston - there's also the Lord John Russell - and the Salisbury - and the Beaconsfield (the title Disraeli took when kicked upstairs into the Lords).
The one glaring absence - I can't think of a local Gladstone. He was, perhaps, too dour a figure to inspire brewers to name a pub after him, famously commenting of the Conservatives' election victory in 1874: "We have been borne down in a torrent of gin and beer!" He believed the Tories had capitalised on dissatsifaction over the 1872 Licensing Act - which restricted pub opening hours among other things - to win over voters.
But he was the People's William. And I notice that there are a couple of Gladstone Arms in South London. It sure makes a nice change from all the Queen Vics and King Charles's.
Finding pubs named after radical politicos is not easy - the only one that comes to mind is the Bradlaugh in Northampton. Any other offers, anyone?
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