Royal Exchange, 2-3 Castle Street, Hillfields
|Alternative Addresses:||1-2 High Street, Victoria Street, Primrose Hill Street|
As King William Street was amongst the first part of Hillfields to be developed, the Ivy Cottage opened c1840. Victoria Street and Castle Street followed later as Hillfields grew towards the city and the Royal Exchange opened c1868.
The name 'Royal Exchange' refers to the building in Cornhilll, London, originally built in 1568 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a place for London merchants to transact their business.
Phillips and Marriott bought the pub at an unknown date for £500 16s 6d and by 1900 valued it at £2,000. Although pub prices were increasing rapidly due to the reduction of licenses by the authorities, this four-fold increase may be partly explained by its rebuilding. The building as it stands at present is in the style we now term 'Brewers Tudor'. A pub built in Hillfields in 1868 would not look markedly different to any of the other buildings, as with the Ivy Cottage, whilst Brewers Tudor appeared in the last years of the century as the authorities encouraged a move away from terracotta and tiles and recommended the virtues of oak instead, leading to the 'Reformed pub', which was meant to be a suburban 'inn or tavern of Olde England' as opposed to the unseemly and depraved aberration of the gin palace. Before 1900 would have been an early date but certainly the Royal Exchange was a forerunner of the style that became universal in the area a decade later.
The pub stood on the corner of Castle Street and Victoria Street with a row of outbuildings extending along Victoria Street which contained the kitchen, toilets, and urinal with a yard to the rear. In 1919, Phillips and Marriott submitted plans to make alterations to the outbuildings, part of which became two-story. The work was completed on June 12th 1920.
Yet on April 7th 1921 the pub closed. I have no authoritative reason for this but the Report of the Police Establishment in 1921 states that one public house was closed in that year for 'ill conduct'. Perhaps this was the Royal Exchange. The Royal Exchange's closure came just three years before Phillips and Marriott's demise, at a time when they were in desperate competition with Mitchells and Butlers, so this loss cannot have helped.
Following closure, the pub was occupied from 1923 to 1926 by the Howitzers Club, who moved from an outbuilding in Lower Ford Street and later moved on to premises in King William Street. At this time No.4 Castle Street next door to the pub was a decorator's owned by Thomas Harper. In 1926 he took over the pub as a showroom, which later became known as 'Brightwalls'. In 1928 the outbuildings were rebuilt to make shop premises. Then in the 1950s and 1960s Brightwalls extended their premises by building a warehouse on to the pub in Castle Street and buying other properties on both sides of Victoria Street. They must have been a big concern then.
From the Second World War the building was protected by planning blight. All of Brightwall's submissions for planning permission carried the rider that the building was in an area of comprehensive redevelopment. This was particularly aimed at 1960-62 and 1968 so nothing happened. The building still stands there at the top of Primrose Hill Street (see photos).|
LICENSEES:1868 Miss Emma Elton 1874 - 1896 Alfred Borton 1899 - 1903 William John Goodwin 1903 - 1905 Mark Watts 1906 Stephen George Robins 1908 - 1913 Joseph Briggs 1913 John Henry Faulconbridge 1916 - 1919 Charles Thomas Alfred Buckwell 1920 - 1922 John Leeson
OWNERS:before 1899 - 1921 Phillips and Marriott
Street plan of 1893