End of an era: Fuller’s “Brewery Tap” closes

Fuller’s has confirmed to The Chiswick Calendar that the Mawson Arms, by Hogarth roundabout, will not be reopening and the building will be sold.

One loyal customer, who frequented the pub with her husband over many years and got to know the staff well, was Pam O’Toole, who makes this tribute to one of Chiswick’s most historic pubs.

By Pam O’Toole

So farewell to The Mawson Arms, Fuller’s Brewery Tap. One of the quirkiest little pubs in London. Steeped in both brewing and literary history. Housed in an historic 18th century building attached to the Griffin Brewery site, it had bizarre opening hours, two official names, and served arguably the best pint of ESB in London.

It was a friendly, cosy, unpretentious local, where customers mixed with off-duty Fuller’s staff. The kind of pub where people knew you by name and real friendships developed.

Like all other Chiswick pubs, it closed down suddenly at the beginning of lockdown in March. On Friday afternoon, (10 July) Fuller’s finally confirmed that it wouldn’t be reopening.

A spokesperson for Fuller, Smith and Turner said: “The Mawson Arms is an integral part of the history of Fuller’s – so as you can imagine, this is not a decision we took easily. However, following the sale of the Fuller’s beer business to Asahi, [the Japanese brewing giant] and the move to our new offices at Pier House in Strand-on-the-Green, we took the decision not to reopen the pub.

“The George & Devonshire, our tenanted pub just a few yards away, continues to thrive, but The Mawson, along with the adjacent former offices, is earmarked for sale.”

Images above: Mawson Arms plaque, credit – Google Street view; Blue plaque Alexander Pope

A piece of brewing history

There’s always the possibility that The Mawson could be sold on to someone else in the brewing industry. If it’s not, it will be an historic loss. Because the Mawson is part of brewing history. It is a listed building, a former home of poet Alexander Pope, and is allegedly one of only a few pubs in England with two names, (because, it seems, it was once split into two pubs). If you pass it on the A4 you’ll still see a pub sign for The Mawson Arms on one side of the building and The Fox and Hounds on the other.

Local historian Gillian Clegg in her book “Chiswick Past” says the Mawson Arms/ Fox and Hounds dated from the 18th century, well before Messrs Fuller, Smith and Turner entered the scene. The Mawson was named after the Mawson family who, in the late 1600s, bought up a couple of local brewing concerns. These were combined into a business that, in Victorian times, would morph into Fuller’s Brewery. According to some accounts, The Mawson Arms was shifted a few metres in the late 1800s to settle in its current corner premises.

Images above: Two former landlords of the Mawson -Jill Cameron (r) Simon Griffiths (l) along with former bar person Jo. 

Quirky and unique

We locals just knew it as “The Mawson” or “The Brewery Tap.” It was unique in a number of ways. At 8pm, when other pubs were just getting warmed up for the evening, the Mawson was closing down. As a local, it was always interesting to see the confusion of potential customers who wandered in just after 8pm, only to be told the tills had been cashed up. And, until recently, it wasn’t open at all on weekends. That’s because it catered largely for Fuller’s workers and punters on  afternoon Brewery tours.

We locals learned a lot about the brewing process from the staff who drank there. As for the beer, it was immaculately kept. My hubbie would compare every Fuller’s pint he drank in London against Mawson standards. Very few measured up. Longstanding landlady Jill Cameron took great pains to keep her beers in peak condition, as did her successor, Simon Griffiths. And they went out of their way to make us locals feel welcome.

On a Friday evening in particular, many of the brewery workers would pack into the 18th century building to celebrate the end of the working week, mixing with the office workers, Fuller’s tour guides, and punters who’d just been on a brewery tour.

Once a month it would be the location for “Thank Fuller’s” – a celebration in which Fuller’s gave back to its staff by offering them free beer for a set amount of time. Perhaps one of the biggest ever “Thank Fuller’s” nights there was in early 2019, shortly after Asahi bought the brewing arm of Fuller’s business in a deal worth an eye-watering £250 million.

What the atmosphere was like that night I couldn’t tell you – it was strictly Fuller’s staff only. But that deal inadvertently sowed the seeds of The Mawson’s demise. The brewery is now owned by Asahi and the hotels and restaurant side by Fuller’s. When Fuller’s subsequently moved staff from offices next to the Griffin Brewery to Strand on the Green, it separated the Mawson from many of its regular customers.

The pub’s proximity to the A4 was always a bit off-putting to punters. The increased traffic pumping out extra pollution since the closure of the Hammersmith Bridge to vehicular traffic has not helped. Now, barring miracles, the Mawson appears to have reached the end of the road.

There was no other pub like it in Chiswick. It will be missed.

Pam O’Toole is a journalist who worked for BBC World Service Radio. She has lived in Chiswick for many years

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Business as usual at the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery

See also: Owners of the Roebuck go into administration