The Most Unusual Pub Names in the UK

The most unusual pub names

Pub names in the UK can seem pretty ubiquitous at times. The Red Lion. The Swan. The Crown. There are thousands of these pubs scattered throughout the land. But with approximately 47,200 pubs in operation, there’s bound to be a few corkers – and there is. Here’s our list of the most unusual pub names in the UK.

The Bucket of Blood

Once voted as the “quirkiest pub name” in the country, we’d say it’s pretty out there. Even a bit scary, to be honest. Apparently, the landlord here once went to get water from a well, brought it up and had only blood in the bucket (there was a badly injured smuggler at the bottom, allegedly). A less gory origin theory for the name is the run-off from local tin mining that used to dye the water in the well red.

The Pyrotechnists Arms

Many pub names in the UK are derived from the trade of the local people. In the case of this Nunhead establishment, there used to be a fireworks factory nearby. Possibly the oldest in the country, actually: Brocks, which was founded in the 18th century.

The Camel & Artichoke

There are actually a few pubs (maybe 10 or so) across the UK with “artichoke” in its name, but it’s definitely rare. Camel & Artichoke started life as just “the Artichoke” in the late 18th-century (maybe something to do with the route taken by market traders with vegetables like the then-exotic artichoke). At some point, and no one knows why, the London pub became the “Elusive Camel”. Then in 2006 these two names were merged. Case closed.

The Q Inn

Conspiracy theorists may have other ideas of what the “Q” means, but really this pub in Stalybridge is merely blessed with what Guinness World Books say is the shortest pub name in the UK.

The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn

Long enough for you? Well, it’s actually the longest pub name in the UK. And it’s also in Stalybridge.

The Only Running Footman

Also a long name (the longest in London, apparently), this Mayfair pub was formerly named “I Am The Only Running Footman”. American crime writer Martha Grimes named one of her novels after the pub’s older, longer name. Well, it does have a ring to it.

The Crooked House

It’s unusual, sure, but this name simply describes the pub: it’s very crooked. The former farmhouse (built in 1765) leans heavily to one side – the result of subsidence due to 19th-century mining operations nearby. You’ll find it near Himley, Staffordshire.

The Bright Helm

Now operated by Wetherspoons, The Bright Helm in Brighton is a reference to the coastal city’s (alleged) former name: Brighthelm. An honorable mention to “The King’s Tun” in Kingston for the same reason.

The Nutshell

One of the most apt pub names in the UK, The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds claims to be the smallest pub in the country. Others disagree. Whatever the truth may be, only around 10 to 15 people can comfortably fit in at any one time. Weird fact: there’s a mummified cat on display that was found during building work.

Poosie Nansie’s

We don’t even know. Well actually, we do: it’s named after the wife of the owner of the pub back when the Scottish bard Robert Burns used to frequent it. It’s in Glasgow.

The Case is Altered

Surprisingly, this weird moniker is shared by a few pubs across the country. Go figure. It’s the title of a 1609 play by Ben Jonson, but what the connection is between Jonson’s play and a handful of pubs is a mystery. The one in Eastcote, in a Grade II-listed 17th-century building, is a charmer.

The Fawcett Inn

Situated on Fawcett Road in Portsmouth, this pub could be innocently assumed to be describing its location. But now say it aloud: “Force it in.” How rude.

The Moon Under the Water

This whimsical name actually comes from a 1946 essay written by the king of dystopia, George Orwell. In the essay he described his ideal pub: it had to have Victorian architecture, should sell a good lunch, and the barmaids should know everyone’s name. Well, times have changed since then, but Orwell’s quest for the best pub ever has been realised in a few pubs that proudly bear this name today – notably in Watford.

The Aeronaut

This Acton haunt is named after George Lee Temple, the first English person to fly a plane upside down. Suitably, they put on weekend circus shows.

The Dirty Habit

Nope. This isn’t as dirty as you think it might be. The name is actually a pun relating to this Leed pub’s location on the Pilgrim’s Way, often walked by monks on the way to Canterbury Cathedral, and monks wear habits, so. That’s that.

The Rusty Bicycle

Formerly “The Eagle”, this pub in Oxford is named because the students here often cycle around. Nice.

The Job Centre

Yes, this really is a pub name, and it’s in Deptford (London). The name itself wasn’t exactly a spark of brilliance – it’s set in a former 1970s era Job Centre, so the title kind of came with the property. Locals weren’t too happy with the name when this newcomer opened in 2014, but it’s still in operation to this day.

The Mad Bishop & Bear

Located in Paddington, the “bear” part of this name references the eponymous marmalade-loving bear himself. The “mad bishop” part refers to a bishop in Paddington who sold land to the railway company at such low prices he was deemed “mad”. Only in Paddington, right?

The Nowhere Inn

Locally referred to as “Nowhere”, this Plymouth pub harks back to a gender-segregated world when husbands would fritter away their money at pubs. When their wives asked where they’d been (or going) they’d say, “Nowhere.” According to The Plymouth Herald, anyway. It was a different time.

If you’re ready to head to the UK and sample these pubs for yourself, get in touch with us at the UK Pub Co. Your hospitality job and accommodation will be sorted before you leave – so you can head straight to the pub when you arrive!

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