THE GEOGRAPHY OF UK PUB NAMES

So, I decided to map some pub names. 

Because, like chicken shops, streets and pizza chains, if we zoom out a bit, pub names tell us a bit about the geography, culture and history of the people who drink live there.

If you’re a TL:DR person you can jump into all the vizzes here or the top 100 only.

Here are a few of my big favourites from mucking about with the data.

The White Bull (and other animals)

The most clichéd, most typical and simultaneously the most iconic pub names are all about the animals (or what they symbolise). White Horses, Red Lions, Bulls (mainly South for some reason), Black Bulls (North for some reason), Foxes, White Harts and Cocks (yes, I know).

In contrast to the black and non-coloured Bulls, the White Bulls seem to be almost entirely in Lancashire. I’m open to theories on that one.

See also: The LambDurham Ox, Brown Cow

The Ship 

Look at how nicely those little red dots fit around the coast of the UK! Well duh. But, it’s nice to see this basically fits the main concept behind this – geography will dictate what your local’s called.

Worth noting here that pubs with boat in the name are decidedly more inland and mostly around canals.

See also: The Dolphin, Buccaneer, Sloop, Fisherman’s Arms, Ferry, Harbour, Jolly Sailor

The London Inn

So this one took me a while to figure out. Why the heck are most of the pubs with London in their name over in the southwest, when London is obviously not there?

Cue trusty sidekick, The Dictionary of Pub Names: “In the stagecoach era it was common practice for an inn to indicate where the coach which called there would go.” Handy reminder after your fourth pint while waiting for transport.

Admittedly, this doesn’t seem to have been as much of a thing with other locations. Oxford and Cambridge make an appearance, but that’s about it.

See also: Windsor Castle, The Railway Inn/Tavern, The Junction, The York

The Miners Arms (and other professions)

There’s a lot of professions that crop up with pub names. You’ve got your Fishermen, you’ve got your Bricklayers. You’ve got a fair few Brewers and Carpenters and Bakers and Blacksmiths. But I’m a fan of all the Miner’s Arms. Try comparing that smattering in Derbyshire to this map.

See also: Boot & Shoe, Farmer’s Arms

Craven Heifer (& other endemic-ish pub names)

And then there’s some pubs you’re likely to see only in certain areas.

Like the Craven Heifers in Yorkshire. Huh? Yup, apparently named after the mega-cow rockstar of it’s time that had enough celebrity status to go on tour and even have its own Wikipedia page. Go figure.

See also: Auld Hoose, Clachan, Shoulder of Mutton, Cricketers (sooo Surrey), Chequers, Brown Cow

If you spot a great story behind one of those names, give me a shout or drop a comment in the Flickr album.


Caveats and other fun stuff

All maps were produced fully in R using osmdata to gather data, tidyverse to clean and  plot and raster to group pubs by UK regions.

Names grouped and cleaned as much as possible, but some pub locations didn’t pass the common sense test (i.e. one of my old locals doesn’t show up), so don’t use these maps for financial decisions, pub crawls or orienteering.

Also, names grouped by (what I’m calling) pub name stems, i.e. The White Horse, White Horse Inn and The White Horse Public House all get grouped into White Horse. This also applies to having New and Old in front of the names.

Pub names from Open Street Map, so:

“Map data copyrighted OpenStreetMap contributors and available from https://www.openstreetmap.org“.

Also, digging into pub names done by frequently cross-referencing The Dictionary of Pub Names.

Messy code on github.