Still standing at 5, Charles Street in London’s Mayfair, W.1., is the ‘Running Footman’ public house. Completed in 1937, the building was one of several new pubs to be rebuilt that year by the brewery company, Messrs. Watney, Combe, Reid & Co., Ltd.
The multi-red brick building was designed by Watney’s in-house architect, A. W. Blomfield, F.R.I.B.A., (Alfred William Blomfield, 1879-1949), who had joined the London-based firm in 1918, before becoming its Chief Architect in 1929.
Exhibited at the Royal Academy, the ‘Running Footman’ is typical of Blomfield’s work from the interwar period, with the building having been designed in a Neo-Georgian style, similar to other Watney pubs completed in the same year, including both the ‘Giraffe’ in Kennington, S.E.11 and the ‘Waggon & Horses’ in Southgate, N.14.
Today, the licensed premises are operated by Greene King under their Metropolitan Pub Company brand, and whilst some alterations have taken place in the intervening years since 1937, the building remains a handsome example of public house architecture from the 1930’s, largely as Blomfield designed it, having fared better than both of those listed above.
The exterior of the building is dominated by black wooden shutters at every window, however most of these are later additions. Originally, each elevation featured just one set of shutters to the centre middle window.
Also new are the windows themselves, with the original metal casements, which came from the Crittall Mfg. Co., Ltd., having been replaced by wood alternatives.
As was typical of the era, the new public house would have initially opened with two separate bars. There was a saloon bar to the front and a public bar to the rear, each with a separate entrance on Hay’s Mews, above which hung decorative box signs. Sadly, both the signs and the original doors have both been lost over the years.
As part of an extensive refurbishment in 2007, the interior has been completely remodelled at ground floor level, whilst the first and second floors have been converted to a restaurant and events space. Little, if any of the current interior is original.
With the two bars having been remodelled into a single space, the original side entrance to the public bar on Hay’s Mews has been blocked up and the window extended. As with the rest of the building, the work has been done to a very high standard, however and as such, to the untrained eye, the changes would easily go unnoticed.
The pub is not a statutory listed building but does stand within Westminster City Council’s Mayfair Conservation Area, affording it some degree of protection from full redevelopment. If you find yourself in Mayfair and in need of refreshment then it is well worth a visit!