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Old Justice Public House, Bermondsey Wall East, London

A Grade II Listed Building in Southwark, London

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Latitude: 51.5002 / 51°30'0"N

Longitude: -0.0643 / 0°3'51"W

OS Eastings: 534456

OS Northings: 179689

OS Grid: TQ344796

Mapcode National: GBR YJ.PD

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.TKWB

Plus Code: 9C3XGW2P+37

Entry Name: Old Justice Public House, Bermondsey Wall East, London

Listing Date: 23 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1452483

Location: North Bermondsey, Southwark, London, SE16

County: London

District: Southwark

Electoral Ward/Division: Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Southwark

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Tagged with: Architectural structure


Neo-Tudor public house built 1933.


Corner-plot pub in the Neo-Tudor style built 1933 to the designs of Sidney C Clark for Hoare & Co brewery, subsequently acquired by Charrington’s brewery in 1934.

MATERIALS: principally of red brick in English bond with applied adzed timber, pitched tiled roof and clustered brick chimneystacks. Metal-framed casement windows with leaded lights feature throughout.

PLAN: L-shape plan with elevations to Bermondsey Wall East (north-east) and Farncombe Street (south-east), with attached modern residential accommodation wrapping around to the rear of the pub enclosing a small yard to the south. Two main entrances serve the pub’s distinct bar rooms: the principal Bermondsey Wall East frontage, facing the Thames, serves the public bar; which has male and female WCs on its east side. The Farncombe Street entrance has a door to the saloon bar (which has a WC entrance to the south), along with entrances to the former off-sales area (now opened-out to the main saloon) and a set of stairs to accommodation on the two upper storeys. A central servery with counters to both bar rooms divides the pub into two roughly equal spaces.

EXTERIOR: the two street-facing elevations are composed in an orderly Neo-Tudor fashion, with applied timber framing to the upper floor with red English bond brickwork beneath. The Bermondsey Wall East elevation is divided into two equal bays; both featuring a continuous grouping of five leaded casement windows to the two upper levels, with the central lights elongated and flanked by the faux timber bracing on the second floor. At street level, the two bays are both occupied by a tripartite grouping of three windows (east) and a central door to the public bar flanked by a pair of windows (west); both are framed by rustic adzed timbers. Beneath each of the windows there are rectangular stall risers, each with individual brick detailing (including stretchers laid in chequer formation, diagonal bands, a herringbone pattern and Flemish bond). A pair of Charrington’s glazed lamps sporting the Toby Jug emblem, which probably date to the 1960s, are positioned above the outside windows on both sides of the frontage. A plaque commemorating the filming in 1984 of No More Lonely Nights and Give my Regards to Broad Street, featuring Paul McCartney, is just above the west lamp.

To Farncombe Street, the arrangement of the elevation is less regular. The northernmost bay consists of two sets of windows to each floor divided by the broad brick stack, which punctuates the otherwise consistent timber framing of the upper level. At street level, a further pair of windows (to the WCs) with coloured lights are framed with adzed timber surrounds with further decorative brick panels below. In the central bay of the elevation there are two set-back entrance doors with corner windows, giving access to the former off-sales (south) and upper floor accommodation (north), both reached by steps. Above the doors are pairs of further windows with a central hanging signboard placed between the upper set, painted to feature a stern bewigged judge (north side) and a convict in the stocks (south). The southern bay is comprised of the set-back and part-glazed saloon bar entrance door (with steps up) which is flanked by coloured leaded windows with further pairs of leaded casement windows above.

The roof is double-hipped with ridge tiles. Clustered chimneystacks flank the two ends of the Bermondsey Wall East elevation and another occupies the end of the Farncombe Street range. Each stack has a trio of clustered chimneys set at an angle to the stack. Over-fired headers at the top of the stacks form half lozenge patterns. The rainwater collectors throughout feature Tudor rose emblems.

The south-west elevation is obscured by the residential block built to the south, save for the upper level which has a central stack with timber framing to either side. The north-west elevation is plain, with a section of white glazed brick to the south. The approximately 2016 plain red brick extension block has pairs of blind windows to the upper storeys. This residential extension to the pub does not contribute to the special interest of the building.

INTERIOR: not inspected, but from the evidence supplied it is apparent that the two bars, saloon and public, along with their WCs and the central serving space occupy the whole footprint of the ground floor. The fittings throughout are unified by the use of light oak (all part of the original scheme), although the treatments differ slightly between the two rooms. The superior saloon bar is fitted with picture-rail height square fielded panelling. Two fireplaces heat the room, one positioned close to the door in the south wall, the other centrally in the west wall. Both have brick inserts with oak surrounds and overmantels which integrate framed panels with original painted nautical scenes set under overhanging cornices. The bar counter, which is set on a tiled platform (serving as a footrest), has a series of recessed panels with protruding uprights set between to support the counter top. On the east side of the counter there is a snug, formerly the off-sales, which has had its partition removed, although the counter to this section remains to make the section clearly legible. A central leaded glazed door with flanking lights in the south wall gives access to the yard area, and to the west is a door to the WCs.

The public bar, on the Bermondsey Wall East side, has picture-rail height slatted panelling with vertical grooves, contrasting with the saloon bar treatment. A single fireplace with a brick surround and overmantel is set centrally in the west wall. WCs with original signage are positioned at the east side of the room; both doors integrated into the panelling. The bar counter has matching slatted and vertical grove treatment. A separate hatch counter, possibly originally used for food service, is set to the east side of the main counter. Set behind the two counters is a bar back with a leaded mirror screen with an emerald green border behind the shelving on both sides. A leaded glazed partition screen is set above.

The two bars are divided into roughly equal spaces by a central servery and also the closed staircase to the upper rooms accessed from Farncombe Street. The stairs lead up to residential accommodation on the first and second floors.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a set of cellar hatches are positioned on the east side of the Bermondsey Wall East frontage.


Inter-war ‘improved’ or ‘reformed’ pubs stemmed from a desire to cut back on the drunkenness and poor conditions associated with conventional Victorian and Edwardian public houses. Licensing magistrates and breweries combined to improve the facilities and reputation of the building type. Improved pubs were generally more spacious than their predecessors, often with restaurant facilities, function rooms and gardens, and consciously appealed to families and to a mix of incomes and social classes. Central, island serveries with counters opening onto several bar areas allowed the monitoring of customers and also the efficient distribution of staff to whichever area needed service. Many of the new pubs were built as an accompaniment to new suburban development around cities, and a policy of ‘fewer and better’ was followed by magistrates both in town and on the outskirts. A licence might be granted for a new establishment on surrender of one or more licences for smaller urban premises. Approximately 1,000 new pubs were built in the 1920s – the vast majority of them on ‘improved’ lines - and almost 2,000 in the period 1935-39. Neo-Tudor and neo-Georgian were the favoured styles, although others began to appear at the end of the period.

Whilst many of the most notable pubs of the period were constructed on large sites with impressive facilities and varied spaces, pub improvement was often a much simpler affair. The Old Justice exemplifies the modest type of urban pub improvement, the new pub built to the designs of Sidney C Clark (1894-1962) in 1933 for the London brewery Hoare & Co at a total cost of £6,555; slightly under the average construction cost for the period. The company had operated from the Red Lion brewery in Smithfield from 1792 and the pub estate that was subsequently acquired was mainly based in and around central London. As a consequence, many of the pubs had restricted plots and notable Clark designs of the period, such as the Magpie & Stump (18 Old Bailey; 1930), the Steam Packet (Lower Thames Street; approx 1933) and the Victoria Beer House or ‘Little House’ (Tooting Grove; approx 1934) were smaller in scale than the type most breweries were building contemporaneously. The Old Justice fitted this pattern; the tight urban plot restricted the range of facilities that could be offered, but its arrangement reflects the principles of reformed pub design. This is expressed through the light and well-appointed bar rooms with plenty of floorspace given over for seating, the male and female toilet provision (by no means guaranteed in pubs built before 1914), the efficient central servery, along with the quality oak fittings and tasteful painted scenes integrated into the overmantels, which all formed part of the pub improvers’ ambition to foster a genteel atmosphere which might have broader social appeal.

The Old Justice’s architect, Sidney C Clark, would emerge over the course of the mid-C20 as one of the most accomplished and prolific pub designers of the era. Between 1933 and 1934, Hoare & Co were taken over by the expanding Charrington’s brewery, who Clark would go on to serve as chief architect up until his retirement in 1959. While working for Charrington’s he designed and remodelled hundreds of pubs which were widely varied in stylistic terms, ranging from robust neo-Georgian designs (such as Westminster Arms, Marsham Street; 1937) to lesser-seen and rather more adventurous examples in a Hispanic style (the Plough, West Sutton; approx 1935). However, the style that Clark was most comfortable with was the immensely popular Neo-Tudor or Tudorbethan style; often known disparagingly as Brewer’s Tudor because of the conspicuous favour it found with pub architects in the 1930s. Amongst Clark’s most notable Neo-Tudor pubs were the Old Red Lion in Kennington (Grade II; NHLE 1061361) and the highly ambitious Daylight Inn, Petts Wood (Grade II; NHLE 1427230), which was one of the largest pubs built by Charrington’s during the inter-war period. The Old Justice is a relatively early example of Clark’s deployment of the Neo-Tudor style, whilst still working for Hoare & Co. Distinctive features which recur in later designs, such as rustic adzed timber, exaggerated clustered brick chimneystacks, neat brick detailing (with diapering to the stacks and varied detailing to stall risers), and grouped leaded light casement windows are all displayed at the Old Justice.

Aside from the Charrington’s signage (which would have been added after Hoare & Co were officially taken over in 1934) the pub has seen only minor alterations in recent years: some original bar room windows have been replaced with sympathetic leaded types and the screen dividing the off-sales compartment from the saloon bar has been removed. In about 2016 a modern residential block was built to the south of the pub which wraps around behind the Farncombe Street frontage.

Reasons for Listing

Old Justice public house, Bermondsey Wall East is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a well composed, neatly detailed and early Neo-Tudor design for the Hoare & Co brewery by Sidney C Clark, one of the most accomplished pub architects of the inter-war period;
* for the quality and completeness of its original internal fittings to the two distinct bar rooms on the ground floor.

Historic interest:

* as a rare, particularly well-preserved example of a small-scale urban pub influenced by the improved pub movement, giving a tangible sense of how such pubs would have looked and operated in the 1930s.   

Group value:

* with 48 Farncombe Street, a Grade II-listed former office, built 1822 in conjunction with the former sewer pumping station.

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