Opinion

Cheer Up Boris Johnson - Maybe You'll Get A Pub Named After You

Cheer Up Boris Johnson - Maybe You'll Get A Pub Named After You
A hanging pub sign with Boris Johnson in front of a Westminster skyline

When it comes to being honoured through London's pub names, the royals have a sweet deal.

King Harold, Henry VII, Charles I, Princess Louise... Even Andrew's got his own pub sign tenaciously hanging on in Fitzrovia.

As for prime ministerial pubs? Not so prolific.

a dke of york pub sign, with the face of andrew windsor on it
I'll keeeep holding on. Image: M@/Londonist.

The best-known London boozer named after a prime minister is the glorious Churchill Arms in Kensington — an Anglophile's wet dream, draped in miles of bunting and piles of Churchillian clutter, with the bulldog-faced PM gurning from a sign out front. (Actually, the Churchill Arms is so named, because Winnie's grandparents used to drink here.)

It's the kind of jolly, Union Flag-fluttering establishment that the incumbent prime minster* — who we know is fond of after-work drinks — would love named in his honour. His version would be plastered with photos of him dangling from zip-wires, and trying to lift beer kegs aloft for no apparent reason.

a not particularly great drawing of winston churchill next to an open doorway through which men drink at a bar
The Churchill Arms is the most famous pub in London named after a prime minister. And one of just a few that are. Image: Fullers.

There are a handful of other pubs that brandish the faces of prime ministers: The Gladstone Arms in Borough is a great live music pub, which in 2017, swerved the ignominious fate of being rebranded Pegz N "Frazes". (Queen Victoria would have been amused, as she couldn't bear the mutton-chopped PM.)

A few Duke of Wellingtons are scattered about. There's a handful of Palmerstones and Salisburys. New Cross is home to a Walpole, named after the very first prime minister. There's even a lone Henry Addington. (Nope, us neither.)

george canning stands arm folded in front of a red curtain, looking rather severe
George Canning was Britain's shortest-serving prime minster. His hair reminds us of another famous George... Constanza. Image: public domain.

Maybe the most interesting tribute is found at Denmark Hill, at a bright blue fronted boozer called the George Canning. Like Addington, Canning is a name that resides firmly in the 'who he?' category.

Well, he was a Tory politician and anti-slavery campaigner, who became the 23rd British prime minster in 1827. Sadly, 1827 was also Canning's last year in office. Not a well man, he died just 119 days later, making him the shortest-serving prime minster — an unenviable record he holds to this day.

a sunny day outside the bright blue george canning pub where a few drinkers sit and enjoy a pint
The George Canning pub is named after a PM who was only in office for 119 days. Image: Duncan Harris in Creative Commons.

The tributes don't end there; London has a Canning Club, Canning House and Canning Circus — all named in homage to the prime minister. There's also a statue of him in Parliament Square. (Canning Town, however, is named for another Canning, Charles.)

Maybe that'll give some hope to the current prime minster**, who, after all has thrashed that 119 day record with almost two and a half years in the hot seat. Otherwise, he'll have to make do with being remembered by the much-blighted 'Boris Buses', as some continue to insist on calling them. Although, as with Johnson, there are no plans to extend their tenure either.

*To be updated accordingly
**Again, we're keeping an eye on this

Last Updated 15 July 2022

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