Sunday, 10 November 2013

What’s in a name?

In the past few years, a number of local pubs have been sold off into the free trade by the pub companies and family brewers. In many cases, with the aim of demonstrating a fresh start, the new owners have decided to change the name. Thus the Railway in Romiley became Platform One, the Board in Whaley Bridge the Drum and Monkey, the Flying Dutchman on Hillgate the Fairway and now the Pack Horse on Stockport Market Place the Cocked Hat.

This has divided opinion, with some people seeing it as a betrayal of tradition. However, I can’t really get too worked up about it. I can understand why the new owners want to draw a line under its former reputation, and the new name is at least an established pub name with a link to Stockport’s past association with the hatting industry. There is perhaps a better argument in favour of retaining unusual and distinctive names such as the Flying Dutchman. There was another example of this in Widnes a few years back where the possibly unique Angel & Elephant became the depressingly mundane Appleton Arms (and is now closed anyway).

At least the once commonplace fad of giving old pubs new “trendy” names such as Sippers, Jesters or Marilyns now seems to have died the death – along, sadly, with many of the pubs given this treatment, like the old Manchester Arms in Stockport which eventually ended up as Cobdens.

And, if you do rename your pub, you run the risk that for decades people will continue to refer to it as “you know, what used to be the Pack Horse”. Plus, sometimes new names simply do not stick, so a few years later the pub quietly reverts to its original identity, as we saw with the Dog & Partridge in Heaton Mersey which had a spell as the Mersey Vale.


  1. is it all about brand value? As to whether the existing name means something positive or negative to punters?

    If the existing name is a negative, a re brand is more effective than a sign "under new management" You're saying it's a new gaff in the old building and not business as usual, really.

    Effective if your gaff was a drug infested shit hole of under aged drinkers and you now you want to sell roast dinners to families.

    Though not sure "Cobdens" can be described as a trendy name, unless all the kids are down with the anti corn laws league.

  2. Yes, I don't think Robbies' got that one quite right, somehow. But I've heard of nightclubs called Bonapartes.

  3. "The Richard Cobden" would be an ideal name for Stockport's next Spoons, of course.

  4. Yeh, though I don't think anyone would name a gaff "Hitlers" like in Thailand

  5. The Seymour used to be a landmark quite near us, good for giving taxi drivers directions. Some time in the mid-90s it degenerated into one of Cookie's drug infested shit holes, closed down, reopened, closed for a longer time and finally reopened under a different name. Taxi drivers still knew where it was - I just had to direct them to the Seymour as was. I suspect the Cocked Hat will be the Pack Horse as was for a few years yet. (The Seymour as was is a block of flats now, and I still sometimes give directions to where the Seymour used to be.)

  6. We still have Fox Corner in Shipley - more than forty years after the Fox and Hounds was demolished.

  7. There is a Castro's in Chiva, near Valencia, Spain and very good it is too.
    I don't know whether this is just a Bristol thing but round here pub name changes just don't register. There is a pub down the road from me which has been called The Westbury Park Tavern for at least six years but everyone still refers to it by its previous name, The Cock of the North. There are numerous other examples.
    @Cookie: you mean the kids up your way aren't down with the Anti Corn Law League? Down here they're all over it...

  8. The Brown Cow in Horsforth became The Hogshead, then Pitchers, then SixtyToo Bar and now it's been bought by Greene King and is The Brown Cow again!


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