In public, in private: design and modernisation in the London public house, 1872-1902

Fisher, Fiona Elizabeth (2007) In public, in private: design and modernisation in the London public house, 1872-1902. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis explores the design and modernisation of public houses in London and environs in the period between the licensing acts of 1872 and 1902. The late nineteenth century public house of historical account ¡ has emerged as a site spatially and materially designed and organised to meet the needs of customers anxious to preserve class-based social distinctions within the public sphere. The thesis argues that this dominant socio-spatial mapping of the interior has obscured other important and intersecting influences on the design and organisation of London's public houses in the period, notably the relationship with the home and the influence of gender on the development of the interior. Further, the productive and socially constitutive nature of the interior has been left largely unconsidered. The study explores the spatial, material and aesthetic models upon which London's late nineteenth century public houses developed. It employs a public/private framework as an historical analytic with the flexibility to investigate social, spatial and intellectual constructs, and as a way of examining the site in terms used by publicans, customers and legislators to define its spaces and negotiate its boundaries. The thesis aims to extend current understanding of the public/private relationship through an examination of material change in a single building type; to evidence the historical processes by which the boundaries between public and private spaces and activities were negotiated, contested and formalised; to explore the implications of these negotiations for class and gender identities; and to provide a material focus for more abstract discussions about space.

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