The Queen Bess public house


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Queen Bess Hotel, Derwent Road, Scunthorpe, DN16 2PE


Ordnance survey map of The Queen Bess public house
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Statutory Address:
Queen Bess Hotel, Derwent Road, Scunthorpe, DN16 2PE

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Lincolnshire (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


A post-war public house, built for Samuel Smith, brewers, of Tadcaster and opened in 1959. The building is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of post-war public house architecture in England, and survives with an almost unaltered interior and plan form.

Reasons for Designation

The Queen Bess public house in Scunthorpe, built for the Tadcaster brewer Samuel Smith and opened in 1959, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* recent Historic England research has shown the building to be one of the best-preserved examples of a post-war public house to survive in England;

* the building retains a very high proportion of its original interior fixtures and fittings, including bar counters, back bars, fixed seating and door joinery and furniture; which are of an unusually high quality;

* the original interior layout of the building remains clearly legible, indicating that the present disposition of bars, lobbies and serveries conforms closely to the original plan;

* recent Historic England research shows that survivals of post-war public houses of this quality are extremely rare in comparison to those of the late C19 and early C20, when very large numbers of new public houses were developed by major national and regional brewers.

Historic interest:

* The Queen Bess was built for, and remains in the ownership of, brewers Samuel Smith of Tadcaster, and represents the influence of this important regional brewery in the sphere of post-war public house design. The public house is named after a blast furnace at the nearby Appleby-Frodingham steel works.


The post-war period saw the English public house become a fully accepted social amenity for the first time, and were constructed in their thousands in new estates and developments and areas damaged by wartime bombing. Until building restrictions were lifted in late 1954, most new public houses were temporary in form or built so as to be capable of future extension; exceptions were occasionally made, but the number of permanent pubs built between 1945 and 1954 was low. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the principles of public house design remained largely the same as in the inter-war period, although further refined and advanced. Buildings were still broken down into separate bars (the most common being public bar and saloon bar, with off-sales shop or off-licence). Central serveries remained the norm, ensuring ready supervision of all bar areas. Manager’s accommodation (almost always on an upper floor) was clearly segregated, and emphasis was placed on the social role of public houses, which often included club or assembly rooms for wider community use and children’s/family rooms. A conscious effort was made to ensure post-war public houses harmonised with their environment, so their exteriors were often comparatively plain and/or of a form imitating nearby buildings; only occasionally were they bold architectural statements, this being especially the case in town and city centres. Almost all were given large car parks (reflecting the rising popularity of the motor car), but gardens became far less common and were less elaborate than in the inter-war years. Despite this, the interplay between interior and exterior space was often emphasised by large windows, loggias, and outdoor terraces. Internally, public houses often retained a sense of traditional atmosphere (e.g. fireplaces were often included in bars, despite the installation of full central heating), but buildings were usually brightly decorated and given modern facilities, ensuring they matched or bettered the quality of contemporary housing. Reflecting the breakdown of the class system, the social and decorative distinctions between these various bars became blurred and interiors became more uniform.  Post-war public houses were frequently planned as part of the larger whole, and located within neighbourhood centres, or adjacent to shopping parades, churches or community centres.

From the mid-1960s, public houses were increasingly rivalled by other forms of entertainment, such as discos, wine bars, restaurants and working men’s clubs. In order to survive, breweries approached design in a less traditional manner. Themed interiors became common, dance floors and function suites were introduced, and catering took on a new importance, while architecture became more adventurous, both internally and externally. Single-bar houses became increasingly widespread – capable of being used by both sexes and people of all classes, and usually broken down into smaller zones – although traditional post-war design characteristics prevailed well into the 1970s. A change came in the 1980s when other building types began to be converted to public houses and the creation of 'pub chains' - multiple site-owning companies, often using near-identical designs.

In more recent times, post-war public houses have become the most threatened and under-appreciated of their building type. The majority have been either greatly altered or demolished, with far fewer intact examples surviving than for the inter-war period.

The Queen Bess public house was completed in 1959 and opened on the 18th December of that year. It was designed by Wilburn and Son, architects, of Doncaster for brewers Samuel Smith of Tadcaster. The name of the public house is a specific reference to one of the two original blast furnaces at the nearby Appleby-Frodingham steelworks, which, by 1945, had become the largest steelworks in Britain. In the early 1950's, the company had enlarged two of its furnaces and named them 'Queen Mary' and 'Queen Bess'. Two new furnaces, named 'Queen Anne' and 'Queen Victoria', were added in 1954, and 'the 'Four Queens' as they became known, remain the heart of the steelworks.

Contemporary press coverage of the opening of Queen Bess makes clear that the new public house was regarded locally as an important addition to the social amenities of Scunthorpe's post-war housing estates. The Queen Bess remains in use as one of Samuel Smith's estate of tied public houses, and has suffered little alteration.


A post-war public house, completed in 1959 to the designs of architects Wilburn and Son of Doncaster for the Samuel Smith brewery in Tadcaster.


The building is built of brick, with a plain tile roof covering.


The building is of an irregular T-shaped plan with the main frontage range to the north and a rear range to the south, located centrally, and aligned north-south.


The main public house range is of two storeys and five bays, arranged 1:3:1, the central five bays beneath a hipped roof, and the two outermost bays beneath lower hipped roof sections. Two tall brick chimneys rise from the rear of the roof at each end of the frontage range. The entrance (north) front is symmetrical with, at its centre, a single-storey, three-bay advanced entrance porch beneath a hipped roof. This gives access to the ground-floor bar areas, the former off-sales department and the staircase to the upper-floor accommodation. There is a small, semi-circular window with glazing bars to the front of the off-sales area, and on each side two doorways, those to the left (west) leading to the saloon bar and the staircase to the first floor, those to the right (east) to the public bar and the off-sales area.

Flanking the entrance porch are single, tall, three-light windows with concrete mullions and surrounds, each light with upper and lower transoms. There are five evenly-spaced upper-floor windows of two and three lights. The east and west return elevations are similarly detailed, each with two, three-light windows lighting the bar areas.

To the rear of the frontage range, and slightly off-centre to it, is a tall, single-storey four-bay range aligned north-south. This was a purpose-built concert room connected to the front range and entered by means of a projecting double doorway and lobby area to the south-east corner of the front range. The concert room has a hipped roof and is lit by windows on three sides, the north side being connected to the entrance range by means of a servery. The concert room has a double doorway to the south-west corner. Extending from the east and west sides of the complex are single-storey toilet blocks.


The interior of the public house remains largely as originally designed, with three different, distinctive bar areas. The public bar, known as `The Tap' - here, a reference to the discharging, or ' tapping' of a blast furnace - retains a timber bar counter and canopy with large studded decoration, and a mirrored back bar. The room also retains original fixed bench seating and a rear-wall fireplace. The lounge bar has a curved bar front made up of horizontal timber strips across which are fixed horizontal bands, the whole reminiscent of barrel staves and bands. The deep canopy is angled rather than curved, and is made up of light-coloured timber strips and bands and incorporates ventilation grilles. There is also fixed bench seating to the north and east walls. The third bar, now accessed from the same central servery area as the other two bars and the original off-sales area, is located at the northern end of the concert room. The long bar counter is set in a recess formed by the entrance lobby to the west side, and has an inward sloping counter front faced with fluted vertical timber boarding, as are the corners of the flanking walls. The original back bar survives, but has been altered to accommodate a later doorway into the main servery area. Above and across the bar recess is a deep timber fascia with `QUEENS BAR' in applied lettering. The concert room has lost its raised stage area, but retains fixed bench seating on its east and west sides.


Alongside the bar counters, canopies and back bar structures, the building retains a high percentage of its original external and internal doors and other joinery items. The former off-sales area (no longer in use) retains its vertically-boarded servery counter, canopy and shelving. In the Queens Bar, a fixed wall plaque reads 'This plaque cast in iron from Queen Bess furnace commemorates the opening of her namesake the Queen Bess Hotel'.


Books and journals
Brandwood, G, Davison, A , Slaughter, M, Licensed To Sell: The History and Heritage of the Public House, (2011)
Cole, E. Unpublished report 'The Queen Bess Public House' (2017)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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