There were many small pubs in the Reading Conservation Area in the late 19th century. Three survive: The Lyndhurst, The Retreat and the Weather Station (formerly The Eldon Arms).
Here are some details of three that closed and were converted to residential properties. If you know of more, let us know and we’ll add the information to share with everyone.
The Golden Lion
The Golden Lion was an H&G Simonds Brewery pub located at 54 Watlington Street, Reading on the corner of The Grove. This building is now in residential use.
Looking at the building today, the evidence of its past as Simonds house can still be seen in the remnants of a Hop Leaf logo. However it is not a Hop Leaf logo, but a sign of a lion that is in this position in the photograph from around 1920. In the window of the pub is a display of beer bottles and Simonds Brewery advertising. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the landlord was John Spyer who was also a grocer. He was not alone among landlords in combining two occupations.
In 1902 John Spyer was prosecuted under the 1887 Margarine Act for failing to clearly label Margarine in his shop and because a member of staff had sold margarine instead of butter to a customer. This offence was considered when the licence was renewed in 1903. Although there is no evidence that John Spyer was replaced as licensee as a result, a new landlord took over in 1904 and until 1908 there were new landlords every year until 1908 when again a period of stability was reached. The Golden Lion remained a pub until at least the 1950s.
Here is the property today.
The Beehive was at the junction of St Johns Road and St Johns Street at 13 St Johns Road. The Beehive opened in 1875, the same year as The Retreat. The pub closed in the mid-1990s and was sold by Morlands Brewery for residential use.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Beehive was a Fullers of Maidenhead pub. In 1921 the brewery was taken over by Nicholson & Sons also of Maidenhead. In 1959 Courage took over Nicholson’s and it became a Courage house. The absence of a pub sign or brewery advertising in this photograph might suggest that it was taken around the time of the takeover by Nicholsons when changes were being made.
The landlord at the time was Charles Walters who held the licence from December 1920 to October 1933, followed by Emily Walters until 1935. The licensing magistrates dealt very seriously with landlords who broke the law. A policeman got George Batten, landlord, in 1909-1912 out of bed after midnight as the pub was not secure. Downstairs he had been annoyed when he stepped in a pool of water and used bad language. On 31 December 1911, he pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined 10s (50p) or 5 days. As a result of this, he lost his licence at the next annual renewal. The building is still standing and is a private house.
The Lifeboat was located 39 St Johns Road, the junction with St Johns Hill. The building is now residential.
Many years ago the building was rendered. Where the render has been removed you can see the old signwriting to the side of the pub saying, “Ind Coope Burton Ales & Stout.”