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Public and Saloon Bars

Posted 19 May 2016


On the back of a brilliant article we wondered across about the Golden Heart we thought we would shed a bit more light on the history of pubs. It was partly a profound respect for pubs and pub culture that drove our desire to bring back Truman's in 2010.

This blog will focus on the separation of saloon and public bars within pubs, something which is still present in the Golden Heart and you may notice in other old Truman's pubs.

By the end of the 18th century pubs were becoming separated into a saloon and public bars, with entirely separate entrances for the two sections.

The separation was mainly a classist one. Saloon bars were sit down affairs for the middle class, carpets on the floor, cushions on the seats and slightly more expensive drinks. You were served at the table and expected to dress smart for the occasion. You would also pay a premium on the drinks for this and usually there would be some entertainment be it singing, dancing, drama or comedy. You would generally be served bitter and in half pints.

Public bars, or tap rooms, remained for the working class. Bare wooden floorboards with sawdust on the floor, hard bench seats and cheap beer were on offer. You didn't have to change out of your work wear so this was generally were the working class would go for after work and drink in pints, generally of mild.

In the 1960s and 1970s, however, class division was blurred and many public houses abolished the partition walls between saloons and public bars.

Some of the separations still remain but the most common reminder is the signs above the doors signifying which entrance was which, so keep an eye out next time you walk into your favourite pub!

Note: This is just a focus on public/saloon divides, however there are many other divides in pubs.

Public and Saloon Bars Public and Saloon Bars Public and Saloon Bars