Colonnade Bar

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East Sussex - Brighton

Two star - A pub interior of outstanding national historic interest

Listed Status: II

10 New Road

Tel: (01273) 328728



Real Ale: Yes

Real Cider: Yes

Nearby Station: Brighton (East Sussex)

Station Distance: 700m

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

Created in 1894 when part of an existing Georgian building was incorporated into the Theatre Royal complex. It still serves as a theatre bar for interval drinks. The frontage is set back from the eponymous colonnade and has doors left (blocked) and right. Beside each is a pretty tiled panel with a thistly design and bearing the name ‘Colonnade Hotel’ (presumably an honorific title!) The maker signs himself ‘Webb & Co, 294 Euston Road, London NW.’ At the top of the front windows is a series of etched glass panels. The two doorways tell us that, although tiny, the pub was originally divided into a private bar (left) and a larger saloon. The screen between them ran from the counter to the baffle by the right-hand entrance. Since then the counter has been reduced in length at each end (ten feet in total) in 1952 which is perhaps when the grim padded panels were applied. There is an attractive three-bay bar-back, no doubt of 1894, with a curved cornice above. Mirrors on the righthand walls serve to give an illusion of space. Postwar work includes the lowered ceiling areas, especially the long, narrow part on the right.
The Theatre Royal, BrightWebb& Co., on, built in 1807 possibly by Edward Hide or Hides, with 1866 auditorium by C J Phipps, re-fronted c.1894 by C E Clayton when the theatre was extended into 8 & 9 New Road and the Colonnade Bar created; the auditorium was re-decorated in 1926-7 by Sprague and Barton. The green-painted elegant Victorian façade is recessed under a flattened archway with decorative spandrels and pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals. It has a small timber projecting bay with Victorian deep-etched glass each side and above, and a door in each corner - the left-hand one now disused and the skylights above are inset with deep-etched glass. On each side are colourful tiled panels - each carries a thistle design in turquoise and rust on cream with the centrepiece advertising The COLONNADE HOTEL in the top section with tiles in brown and turquoise below and signed by Webb & Co, 294 Euston Road, London NW.

The single-room interior has depth but is narrowed by the Victorian servery down the left-hand side. The padded panels on the front possibly added in the 1960 and brass rails line both top and bottom of the carved counter. The fine carved Victorian three-bay bar back has arched framed mirrors and a small glass panel at the centre painted with a Britannia figure trade mark. Research at the East Sussex Record Office shows that in 1952 the whole floor and joists were removed due to woodworm attack. This necessitated the removal of the counter and back fittings. Both were shortened by about 10ft before their being replaced. It is possible to see where they once extended to as there is cheaper quality arched timber each side, framing a mirror. There was at that time a partition running from the corner of the shortened counter to the still existing portion of partition at the right side door. This created a long Saloon Bar and a smaller Private Bar then entered by the now defunct left door. (Perhaps the most remarkable plans for this bar date from 1936, which proposed a complete refit and re-fronting in a modernist style with neon sign (!), The Colonnade Long Bar. No reason is given for this work not being carried out.) There is a good red decorative plaster ceiling with moulded cornice at the rear and by the entrance door there is a short partition with more etched glass in the top section. Timber dado all round, and along the wall opposite a row of illuminated timber-framed mirrors which make the room appear larger than it is. At the front and back is upholstered bench seating, probably from 1952. There are theatre posters and numerous photos of actors. As a theatre bar interval drinks are ordered and ready for you in the break.

At times, such as during matinees,it is possible to wander into the unspoilt Theatre Royal and see the 1894 box office still in use today and its three bars. At the rear of the ground floor is the stalls bar consisting of an 1890s panelled mahogany bar counter and mirrored shelving. On the first floor late C19 double doors with stained glass panels lead into the larger Royal Circle Lounge Bar which retains the 1890s mahogany panelled counter, mahogany and mirrored shelving with central swans neck pediment and a mahogany fireplace with reeded pilasters. The adjoining Phipps Bar contains a later C19 black marble fireplace with tiled cheeks. There is another bar in the gallery which dates from the 1960 but is not always open.
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