Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Reader Contributions: Rude Pub Names, Part 1


As I mentioned yesterday, get set for a collection of reader contributions.

Byter Graham E has sent me some pics of rude pub names. 

His pics and the identification appear below, with additional pics and comments by myself. 


What our American cousins call “bars”, we in Australia, New Zealand and England call “pubs”, short for “public houses”. More elegantly, where they also offer accommodation, they are called “hotels”. 

The names of the pubs, and then buildings in which they are located, in Britain, are often hundreds of years old. 

From Wikipedia: 
Pub names are used to identify and differentiate pubs. Many pubs are centuries old, from a time when their customers were often illiterate, but could recognise pictorial signs. Pub names have a variety of origins, from objects used as simple identification marks to the coats of arms of kings or local aristocrats and landowners. Other names come from historic events, livery companies, and occupations or craftsmen's guilds. 
Unlike Ireland, where the names of pubs tend to be based on the name of the owner, or a former owner, in mainland Britain this has been unusual, probably because pubs wanted names that could be related to an image on their pub sign, a key means of identifying them in an age of restricted literacy. In Australia a high proportion of older pubs have names ending in "hotel", and generally their names reflect hotel naming conventions. 



(This one is across the road from my office, in Ashfield NSW) 

At the same time many of the strange pub names are of relatively recent origin, designed to be memorable, catchy or seeking attention. 

Remember this exchange from Wayne's World? . . . 
Tiny: Wayne. How you doin'?
Wayne: Hey, Tiny, who's playing today?
Tiny: Jolly Green Giants and the Shitty Beatles.
Wayne: Shitty Beatles? Are they any good?
Tiny: They suck.
Wayne: Then it's not just a clever name.


Grahams email: 
Hi Mr O,  
Thought you could use these, and lift the tone of that bites thing you have ........... 
It’s Bytes, Graham, Bytes . . . 

But thanks anyway.


Graham's pics:

The Famous Cock, 259 Upper St, Highbury, London N1 1RU, United Kingdom 

You should all be ashamed of yourselves, the name refers to a rooster, as these pics from the pub’s Facebook pages show: 

Originally known as Cock and later The Cock Tavern, it was opened in 1872. The pub was badly damaged by a V1 on 27th June 1944 and lost most of its top two floors. Demolished in 1956, it was replaced by the current pub built on the same site. 

The Highbury and Islington station with The Cock Tavern on the left - circa 1900 

The Cock Tavern (right), 1906 


The Spread Eagle, 1 High Street, Cottingham, Corby LE16 8XL, United Kingdom 

From a website providing a walking tour of the village of Cottingham:
This used to be a thatched cottage and has been around since about 1854. It was a much smaller building than now, but as a pub central to the village, it featured strongly in many village occasions. The new Spread Eagle was built in the 1960s at the back of the original Spread Eagle which was subsequently demolished. This pub closed in 2012 but has now reopened under new management.  
Again I say, you ‘orrible lot, thinking immediately of things sexual. It refers to an eagle in flight with its wings spread. 

I do admit though that the pub name reminded me of Velma (Catherine Zeta Jones, hey, another Kirk Douglas link) in Cell Block Tango in the film of Chicago: 
My sister, Veronica and I had this double act. And my husband, Charlie, traveled around with us. With the last number in our act, we did 20 acrobatic tricks in a row--one two three four five, splits, spread eagles, flip flops, back flips, one right after the other! Well, this one night we were in Cicero, the three of us, and we were in this hotel room boozing and having a few laughs. And we ran out of ice, so I went out to get some  
I come back, open the door…  
There's Veronica and Charlie doing number seventeen… the spread eagle!  
Well, I was in such a state of shock, I completely blacked out. I can't remember a thing. It wasn't until later, when I was washing the blood off my hands, I even knew they were dead! 

Fanny On The Hill Hotel, 18 Wickham St, Welling DA16 3DA, United Kingdom 

A 2013 review:
Local legend has it that the original pub (called the White Horse) was a hangout of highwaymen who took advantage of the pub’s isolated and lofty position as well as the landlady’s help in spotting potential targets. The current pub was rebuilt in 1957 to service the estate that has now grown up around the area and it was still called the White Horse until recently when the old Fanny on the Hill nickname became permanent (the Fanny in question is believed to be Anne Muirhead, a 19th Century landlady).  
Whilst the pub still commands a lofty perch, it is now surrounded by a housing estate from whom much of the customer base is drawn and judging by some of the dialogue challenged characters on my visit, the plunderers of yore probably seemed like members of the clergy.
 The exterior won’t exactly adorn many chocolate boxes and inside things are equally uninspiring. The largish single room has a central bar with a pool area off to the right and a host of sport orientated TVs (including 3 behind the bar alone). A brace of dart boards bookend the pub in their own little recesses and the presence of copious trophies suggest that pub games here are keenly contested.
 The entrance to the beer garden was blocked off so I didn’t manage to see if this would be a surprise asset and any chances of the pub having redemption in the beer selection was scuppered by a basic choice of standard kegs and the solitary ale (Bombardier) being off. Prices weren’t exactly budget either.
 Throw a few unchecked wayward brats into the mix and you have a pub that doesn’t exactly look to draw in visitors from far and wide.

A further report, this one from 2014, at: 

A well known Welling pub has closed after Bexley Council revoked its licence because alcohol was sold to 15-year-olds and the manager was seen "drunk" at the venue.

Bexley Council says it has "no confidence" in Paul Eskdale, who has run the Fanny on the Hill for eight years, after police were called to a fight and found him to be "drunk, incoherent and incapable of controlling the venue".

At a licensing sub-committee meeting councillors said they didn't believe Mr Eskdale could prevent crime and disorder, uphold public safety, prevent public nuisance or protect children from harm. 

Some early pics of Fanny on the Hill, dates unknown: 

Some additional fanny facts:

In Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, “fanny” is a vulgar term describing the female genitalia. In Canada and the US it is an informal term referring to the buttocks. 


In 1867 in a rural town in England, 8 year old Fanny Adams was murdered by one Frederick Baker, a solicitor’s clerk. After killing her, he dismembered her body and scattered the parts, so many that it took days to find them.  Some parts were never found.  The case received wide attention and Baker was executed on Christmas Eve, 5,000 attending. 

The young Miss Adams came to attention again when in 1869 the British Navy introduced new rations of tinned mutton. Dissatisfied sailors jokingly referred to the rations as “Sweet Fanny Adams”, possibly because of the small pieces of meat contained in the rations. From there the term came to be applied to anything small or nothing. Often this was abbreviated to “Sweet F A” or just “SFA”. 

The expression “Fuck all” already existed at that time, it did not descend from Sweet Fanny Adams. However, the similarity of the initials, FA, is believed to have resulted in the phrase “Sweet Fuck All”. 

As a final note, the large tins the mutton was delivered in to make the rations were reused as mess tins. Mess tins or cooking pots are today still known as Fannys. 

Illustrated Police News portrait of Fanny Adams 

Fanny Adams’ grave in Alston Cemetery.

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