If you happen to search for the words “Yorkshire Stingo” on the archives catalogue WESTCAT then a brief look at the 87 entries that appear should be enough to convince you that it was a colourful and exciting place to be.
This tavern, on the corner of Church Street and Marylebone Road, certainly hosted some lavish entertainment. Posters and newspaper cuttings advertise Grand Summer Fetes, concerts and vaudeville music hall shows. Diversions ranged from the spectacular to the bizarre with, a newspaper cutting from 1837 advertising a Grand Balloon Fete featuring a live animal being dropped from a parachute.
The Yorkshire Stingo is believed to date from the 1600s, and was most aptly named, ‘Stingo’ which is old slang for strong beer. However the Stingo was far more than just a tavern; it was the multiplex of its time, boasting a tea garden, a bowling green and the Apollo Saloon Music Hall.
As well as being known as a house of entertainment it also holds an important place in the history of London’s public transport. It was the terminus of the first London omnibus. We hold an illustration of this vividly ornate vehicle at Westminster City Archives, shown above. The catalogue description reads as follows:
‘George Shillibeer (1797-1866) introduced the first omnibus service to London on 4th July, 1829. For the price of a shilling, passengers could travel from the Yorkshire Stingo Inn in Marylebone to Bank in the City, attended to on the journey by conductors renowned for their courtesy’
I like to imagine the passengers on the first London bus as a cheerfully inebriated crowd, regaling each other with raucous drinking songs as the horse drawn bus trundles through the city streets. This is my own fancy however, I can offer no historical evidence for the mood of the passengers or their behaviour.
After roughly 300 years of entertaining Londoners and slaking their thirst for strong ale, the Yorkshire Stingo was finally closed in the 1960s as part of demolition work prior to the development of the Westway flyover. One of the paintings below shows it in 1960 shortly before its demise.
Do you have memories of the Yorkshire Stingo?
One of the things I find most tantalising about the Yorkshire Stingo is that it still remains within living memory. There are people in London today who must remember drinking there. If you are one of them, or if you know someone who is, we would love to hear from you. Perhaps you even have a photograph taken at the Stingo that you would be happy to share with us. You can drop us an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to see more pictures of the Yorkshire Stingo? Take a look at our our Flickr book album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/westminster-archives/albums/72157709858281407