Flying Horse

6 Oxford Street

Not only is this pub a grade II* listed building but it is also on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest and the description is as follows: “Right by Tottenham Court Road Tube station, this is the last-remaining pub on whole length of Oxford Street and is busy morning, noon and night. It was built in 1892 in a Flemish Renaissance style to the designs of architects Saville & Martin and occupies a narrow plot which no doubt reflects a long history. The pub now consists of a long, single space which is the result of the amalgamation of at least two rooms from the original Victorian pub. There is a good deal of decoration to admire here, especially in the rear part where there is a tiled frieze with swirling foliage, an ornate mahogany-surround fireplace, mirror and mahogany panelling, and a skylight (which has been ruined by unbelievably inappropriate modern coloured glass). Down the right-hand wall is a series of mirrors and paintings which depict three of the four seasons (number four has been lost at some stage). On the ceiling throughout the pub is a series of painted roundels of Classical subjects.”

The listing description is as follows: “Public house, 1892, by Saville and Martin for the Baker Bros. Some later alterations including modern pub front. EXTERIOR: a red brick building with stone banding and dressings in a Flemish Renaissance style. Its narrow frontage rises to four storeys plus a two storey gable, behind which is the steeply pitched slate roof. All the windows are timber sashes; some have transoms with coloured glass. The ground floor pub front and fascia are entirely modern but the pink granite corner pilasters with decorative consoles survive and above ground floor the building is largely unaltered. The first and second floor are defined by round-headed niches to the outer bays and a central canted bay window with pink granite colonettes, carved frieze and a gable feature breaking through into the third floor. The third and fourth storeys each have three segmental headed windows and the shaped gable to fourth and fifth floors has a broken pediment at its apex.

INTERIOR: not only survives extremely well, but also contains decorative elements that are more than special. The mahogany pilastered panelling, large fireplace with overmantle, colourful tiled frieze with swirling foliage, moulded cornice and heavily moulded ceiling with skylight are as robustly detailed and exuberant as those in the best late C19 public houses. The decorative panels mounted in the panelling are even rarer survivals and have more than special quality. There are three back-painted mirrors with ribbons, cherubs and cornucopia by Jones and Firmin who reintroduced this technique for decorating glass in the 1880s. There are panels of encaustic tiles depicting flowering urns by Millington, Wisdom and Co, Art Tile Painters of Shaftesbury Avenue. And there are three painted canvases of the Seasons, plump allegorical figures carrying pheasants, grapes and flowers, signed by Felix de Jong and Co (the fourth has been lost). The ceiling also contains painted roundels depicting Classical scenes, also by de Jong. The interior is relatively unaltered. While the bar is new, modern coloured glass inserted into the large octagonal skylight at the rear, and partitions have been removed to create a single open space of what were once at least two rooms, this remains one of the best-surviving late Victorian pub interiors in the country.

HISTORY: The Tottenham was redeveloped on the site of an older pub at the same time as the large neighbouring block on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. Although the two buildings were commissioned and erected simultaneously, there was never any interconnection between them and they remain separate addresses. Both are in the Flemish Renaissance style popular for commercial buildings and public houses at the end of the C19, a style which also suited the narrow plot widths on Oxford Street that had prevailed from the Georgian development of the road. When The Tottenham was built it was located a few doors down from the Oxford Street Music Hall and there is something of the palace of varieties about its interior; indeed the decorators De Jong and Co were also employed at Frank Matcham's Hackney Empire.

The Baker Bros were the late C19 publicans par excellence. William Henry and Richard Baker came to London from Devon with a few shillings between them and gradually built an empire of lavish public houses and hotels. The Tottenham was one of their first speculations and they ran it personally from 1892-7; the adjoining building at 1a Tottenham Court Road was their offices. Although their enterprises ended in financial ruin, in the late 1890s they were masters of premises across London and several hotels in Leicester Square and the West End including the Grand Café de l'Europe, all but the latter designed by Saville and Martin who were pub specialists. Both became very rich and William, who rose to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Honourable Artillary Company, was considered to be 'a rather dandified man'; Richard was (according to Mark Girouard) 'flashier and financially closer to the wind'. This is the best-surviving of their remaining public houses. SOURCES Mark Girouard, Victorian Pubs (1984) Geoff Brandwood and Jane Jephcote, London Heritage Pubs: an inside story (2008) REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Tottenham Public House is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * its splendid interior which is one of the best-preserved in London and includes mirrors, mahogany panelling, an ornate fireplace and overmantle, ceramic frieze and embossed ceilings; * other elements of the décor are more than special survivals, in particular the paintings of the Four Seasons and ceiling panels, by De Jong and Co, the back-painted mirrors by Jones and Firmin and the panels of encaustic tiles depicting flowering urns by Millington, Wisdom and Co; * the exterior architecture is strong too and the exuberant Flemish Renaissance style chosen by Saville and Martin suits this tall, narrow frontage * one of the few remaining pubs built by the Baker Bros, who epitomises the boom and bust world of late C19 public house speculation and were men-about-town in their own day. Selected Sources Books and journals Brandwood, G, Jephcote, J, London Heritage Pubs - An Inside Story, (2008) Girouard, M, Victorian Pubs, (1984)”

The WhatPub link is here: Flying Horse/WhatPub

The Pub Heritage Group Link is here: PHG/Flying Horse

The Flying Horse featured on the Evening Crawl of Soho in February 2002, and the Saints and Sinners: Evening Crawl of Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Soho in April 2016.