"not a bright family home, not at all, but a gin shop"
The World's End in Camden Town, one of the typical Victorian London pubs which would come to replace the gin shops - Credit: André Leroux
Gin shops were small 18th
century shops, often chemist’s, which sold gin
to take away or drink standing up. Gin was a very popular drink, as it originally had medicinal associations and could be obtained relatively cheaply. In the 1820s the first ‘gin palaces
’, such as Thompson and Fearon's, were built – changing legislation meant that the shops had to serve beer and wine as well, and more space was needed for the customers. At first considered vulgar, they were the precursors of Victorian pubs
which sprang up rapidly during the nineteenth century. Beer replaced gin as the favoured drink (see bookmarks on Hogarth’s Gin Lane,
page nine) and the ‘gin palaces’ gradually died out.
Charles Dickens on the gin shops of St Giles.