Collingwood Society: Nautical Pub Names

The Collingwood Society had a bit of a change this month, with a talk on nautical pub names – partly a literal pub quiz, because you got to give yourself a point if you knew where the pub on the screen was, a point if you had drunk in it, and ten points if you had been thrown out of it (although no one was admitting to that) – not that there was any effort made to collect points, but it was good fun*.

We started with a brief history of pubs and pub signs, from grapes for the Romans to bushes for the English and a medieval requirement to have a sign by which your pub could be identified (and taxed), to the first pubs named for heroes (the Marquis of Granby being particularly popular).

The nautical pub names covered quite a variety, from the simple ‘Ship’, which was condemned as unimaginative, but does seem to be very common – and useful, because you don’t to change it if a new ship comes into fashion – and pubs named for types of ships.

Next came the pubs named for individual ships – from Royal Georges, Victories, Royal Sovereigns and a Fighting Temeraire (apparently now renamed plain ‘Temeraire’ because it was giving the drinkers ideas), to modern aircraft carriers and the Politician, wrecked on Eriskay with a cargo of whisky, and even Noah’s Ark!

Then there were the people, from the ubiquitous Nelsons to rare mentions like Earl St Vincent and more local heroes like John Borlase Warren in Nottingham – Wetherspoons were praised for often using local names – and a special mention for Upper and Lower Poppleton in Yorkshire, with a Lord Collingwood pub in one and a Lord Nelson in the other.

Captain Cook, however, seemed to have the widest spread, from places where he had definitely been to places like Alaska where he might have been to places like Mumbai where he had definitely not been!

A fun evening, and I will no doubt end up with a collection of signs myself – I’ve got quite a few Georgian ones already, although I’ve never tried to put them in one place…

(*I was handicapped by rarely drinking in Newcastle, and scored 7, although with quite a nice geographical spread – I had drunk in a Ship in Holy Island, the Plimsoll Line in Redcar and the Lord Nelson in Gibraltar!)

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