Revealed: What's in a London pub name

Whitechapel pub named after Royal London Hospital

The Good Samaritan in Whitechapel is named in honour of the nearby Royal London Hospital - Credit: Sam Cullen

London is renowned for its bustling pub scene. 

The beauty of the capital is that, whatever your tipple, there are pubs aplenty to explore. 

We can all easily reel off the names of our favourite haunts, but fewer of us know their origins.

Luckily, Sam Cullen and James Potts have written a book on the very subject. 

‘What’s in a London Pub Name?’ is a real labour of love for the pair, who were inspired to write the book while walking through London in lockdown. 

Sam told the Advertiser that while neither he or James are authors by trade, he has always been a pub enthusiast. 

“What I like about pubs is that there’s such a variety. I also appreciate what they are to communities – a real anchor.” 

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Once set in their idea, James contacted publisher Capital History. 

They were receptive to the pitch, and the co-authors got to work in around April last year.

Gathering information in a variety of ways – through library and internet research, alongside face-to-face conversations – Sam and James spent around six months pulling together their masterpiece. 

Sam explained that although they visited all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, certain areas – including Tower Hamlets – are clear hotspots. 

“Tower Hamlets has countless pubs with names revealing so much about the area’s rich and colourful history,” said Sam. 

“From those named after famous British painters – the Turner’s Old Star in Wapping – to those which remind us of our industrial past – such as the Galvanisers Union in Bromley-by-Bow – the inspiration behind the borough’s pub names really reflects the diverse nature of this corner of the East End.” 

With plenty more examples in the book, Sam flagged another favourite - the Good Samaritan in Whitechapel, which “pays tribute to the [Royal London] hospital right beside it”. 

To buy your copy, visit this link.