The Russell/The Russell Hotel/Tesco – 114 to 116 Brixton Road

The history of the pub…

The Russell public house opened on Brixton Road in 1878 and not in 1906 which is a popular assumption. The misunderstanding regarding the age of the building comes from the fact that the distinctive frontage was added along with an extension in 1906 and that date is inscribed on the top left of the building. The building was a traditional large Victorian public house with wooden panelling, a billiards area and plenty of marble. The Russell was not originally a hotel, the rooms above housed lodgers and staff, the hotel aspect appears in the late 1920’s. During WW2 the building was hit on at least two occasions, you can read more about bomb incidents that affected the pub over on the bombing and war section of this site – here

Photo above – 1920’s. You can see that the pub sign says Mrs Lee & Son. The group of schoolchildren outside are waiting to be picked up to go on a trip.

From the 1930’s until the early 1990’s the Russell Hotel was owned by the Brady family who even changed it’s name to Brady’s for a time. After Brady’s sold up and moved to Atlantic Road the pub went through several changes of ownership and by 2003 was closed and boarded up. It was briefly squatted and then by late 2005 the first sign of change was that the upper hotel floors were converted into apartments and a residential extension was added onto the right side of the building, on the site of where an adjoining dairy once stood. The flats were slow to sell, this probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the ground floor remained a building site with unsightly hoardings and general mess.

Photo above – The Russell Hotel in 2005 – note the extension to the right and the unsightly boards that remained for eight years.

The future of The Russell Hotel looked uncertain and from 2003 to 2011 it stood empty with rumours of a total conversion into flats circulating. Then Tesco did what Tesco does and moved the builders in to create another one of it’s ‘Express’ stores, upsetting locals and gutting the interior. The exterior was mostly preserved, the marble pillars and the wooden window frames remain, while the Russell Hotel sign was replaced with the familiar Tesco logo and a cash machine was fitted into part of the old window.

Photo above – The Russell Hotel in 2011 undergoing the Tesco transformation

Photo above – Another photo of the The Russell Hotel during the renovation by Tesco

Photo above – The Russell Hotel as it is today (2012)

The Russell Hotel through the years…

I have used two different sources of information to track some of The Russell Hotel’s previous owners and occupants:

Kelly’s Business Directories 1880 to 1939

YearPremises NameOwner Name
1881The RussellHugall & Co
1886The RussellE.R Coles
1888The RussellE.R Coles
1889The RussellE.R Coles
1890The RussellE.R Coles
1891The RussellCharles J.F. Shannaw
1892The RussellCharles James Fras Shannaw
1894The RussellCharles James Fras Shannaw
1895The RussellCharles James Fras Shannaw
1897The RussellAlick White
1898The RussellAlick White
1903The RussellTom Lee
1904The RussellThomas Lee
1909The RussellThomas Lee
1915The RussellMrs Jane Lee
1920The RussellMrs Jane Lee
1923The RussellMrs Mary Ann Jane Eastwood, Frederick Lee & Mrs Daisy Webb
1925The Russell HotelMrs J Lee & Sons
1928The Russell HotelMrs J Lee & Sons
1938The Russell HotelLuke Brady

Census Information

The census returns for 1881, 1901 and 1911 below list the occupants of The Russell Hotel. The Census for this part of Brixton Road in 1891 is damaged and so I’ve not been able to include that.


NameRelation to HeadAge in 1881OccupationPlace of Birth
Charles HugallHead43Licensed VictualarMiddlesex
Emma HugallWife33Surrey
Martha FreemanServant21BarmaidSurrey
Rachel DrewServant23BarmaidSurrey
Louise WilsonServant26General ServantSurrey


Name:Age and year of birth in 1911:Relation to Head:Place of BirthOccupation:
Alick White52 abt 1849HeadBrisleyPublican
Edith D White15 abt 1886DaughterLambeth/
Frank Hassett24 abt 1877ServantLambethBarman
Madaline Hand23 abt 1878ServantChathamBarhand
Fredk Sargent29 abt 1872BoarderOld BramptonBarman
Ethel Evans29 abt 1872CookManchesterCook
Minnie Robinson24 abt 1877ServantLeighton BuzzardBarman
Albt Cherry23 abt 1878ServantYorkBilliard Marker
Jenny Willy20 abt 1881ServantBostonDomestic Servant


Name:Age and year of birth in 1911:Relation to Head:Place of BirthOccupation:
Thomas Lee52 abt 1859HeadLambethPUBLICAN
Jane Lee54 abt 1857WifeBermondseyASSISTANT IN THE BUSINESS
Thomas Lee29 abt 1882SonLimehouseBILLIARD MARKER
Fred Lee27 abt 1884SonBermondseyASSISTANT IN BUSINESS
Daisey Lee20 abt 1891DaughterLondon, United KingdomASSISTANT IN BUSINESS
Ethel Griffin25 abt 1886ServantKensingtonBARMAID
George Smith24 abt 1887ServantBEDFORD, Bedford, EnglandBARMAN
Ellen Jones37 abt 1874ServantLambethHOUSE MAID
Hetty Grover24 abt 1887ServantKilburnBARMAID
Lily Filmer23 abt 1888ServantGUILDFORD, EnglandBARMAID
Emily Bremer39 abt 1872ServantBethnal GreenCOOK
Peter Daniel Bermingham37 abt 1874BoarderBurgh, Edinburgh, ScotlandCOMEDIAN
Bessie Bermingham26 abt 1885BoarderLancaster, Lancaster, England/
James Cumming22 abt 1889BoarderGlasgow, ScotlandVARIETY ARTISTE
James Cumming22 abt 1889BoarderGlasgow, ScotlandVARIETY ARTISTE

11 Responses to The Russell/The Russell Hotel/Tesco – 114 to 116 Brixton Road

  1. Deborah says:

    Thank you for your fascinating website. I am searching for an address where my grandmother lived and worked as a chambermaid in 1938 and wondered if anyone would have any memories of the house. It is 28 Grove Road, Brixton SW
    Kind regards

  2. Janet says:

    Are there any other photos of 116 Brixton from around 1890? My great grandmother was a barmaid there in 1890 according to the 1891 Census. (I’m researching Matthew Fair, who disappeared around 1894.)

    • Sam says:

      I now live in a flat above where the bar would have been at 116 brixton road, flat A. I’d love to hear the history, contact me and I can provide photos

      • Janet says:

        According to a census from 1891, my great grandmother lived there listed as a servant/barmaid from Kennington. She had married Matthew Fair at an early age, had a daughter when she was 23, and within 5 years Matthew disappeared.
        In around 1894 she and her daughter left with a man from Chicago who was in the same business as her family, surgical instrument making. He moved her and her daughter to Chicago, married, and adopted her daughter. She attended operas often costumed according to the time and place of the opera. My father tells me she was a contralto, and when she sang it scared him.
        I, her great great granddaughter, am a Broadway actress and singer – a belter. I fancy I inherited my voice from her. I imagine her singing drinking songs as she served lagers in Russell pub at 18 years old.

  3. John Roche says:

    I worked as a barman here in 1976, this premises was owned by Luke Brady, I was 19 years old then.

  4. Gillian Fowler says:

    I have fond memories of Brady’s in the eighties loved goin there on a Friday and Saturday night and even worked there x

  5. Gillian Fowler says:

    I worked there in 1986

  6. In the late 60s/early 70s I lived with my aunt and uncle in Tooting south London. They were called John and Mary O’Driscoll. While I was living with them we visited the Russell pub several times. They knew quite a lot of customers there but I think the main reason for going was to see a cousin of ours from County Cork Ireland who was probably employed there at the time. I think his name might have been Con O’Driscoll and now, all these years later, I am trying to do my Driscoll family tree! My problem is that I have very little information about the family and although it’s quite a long shot I wonder if any of the staff or customers or even neighbours from that time have any useful info? At the time the pub was owned by the Brady family, this name also sounds Irish so they could have been friends. Thank you

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