Coal Hole

91-2 The Strand,
WC2R 0DW

This grade II listed pub is one of London’s Real Heritage Pubs (ie on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest) where the description is as follows: “A stunning piece of olde Englishe revival as employed, rather later, at the even more stunning Cittie of Yorke, Holborn. The pub is part of the Savoy Court complex built in 1903-4 to designs by a well known Edwardian architect, T.E. Collcutt. Expense was not spared in creating a lofty beamed L-shaped drinking hall whose main decorative theme is the celebration of the fruit of the vine. In a massively deep frieze there are decorative young ladies collecting grapes in an agreeable state of decolletage. At the rear of the pub is an exuberant terracotta fireplace decorated with juicy bunches of grapes and an escutcheon with the uplifting motto ‘Convivium Moderatum atque Honestum’ (loosely translated as an exhortation to honesty and what we now refer to as ‘responsible drinking’). The bar-back with its flat-arched openings and simply panelled counter is original but, most regrettably, the obtrusive gantries stuck on the corners are an unpleasant modern addition. Do go upstairs to the mezzanine floor from where you can get a bird’s eye view of this spectacular pub and its sumptuous features. The pub claims to take its name from being a popular hostelry for London coal heavers who used to fuel the city before the arrival of natural gas. There is a small, windowless snug in the basement which purports to be the coal hole itself.”

The listing description of the Savoy Court complex is as follows: “Extension of the Savoy Hotel complex. 1903-04 by T. E. Collcutt. Doulton's Carrara Ware terracotta facing, green pantile and plain tile roofs. Free Northern Renaissance with feature of corner turret instead of gables. Part of an almost symmetrical composition with Nos 96 to 104 q.v. 6 storeys and 2 tiers of attics in steep mansard. 8 windows wide (1:6:1) with 5 window return to Savoy Court (1:4). Original shop front of the Savoy Taylors' Guild on the ground floor with No 89 as public house to right and returned; the shop windows tripartite with arched transoms and colonettes, central shop door, between quarter Ionic columns carrying entablature; 1929 canopy to Savoy Court return. Upper floors have close set architraved casement windows, with cornices to 2nd and 3rd floors whilst the flanking bays have shallow 2 light segmental bow windows. To the corner these bows are fully developed as 3 storey domed corner turret with 3 light mullioned transomed windows between buttresses finished off with ball finialed dies. Bold cornice over 4th floor, sheer attic cornice and corniced and segmental pedimented dormers to mansard. Same details to Savoy Court but with bows to corner only.”

The décor, stained glass and cellar bar may reflect the fact that, according to a 1914 directory, this was a wine merchants. The ‘SWL’ monogram in the windows is purported to stand for ‘Strand Wine Lodge’.

The Coal Hole featured on the Oranges Are Not The only Fruit - Have a Banana: Evening Crawl of The Strand and Covent Garden in April 2010.