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Forty years young

Wetherspoon celebrates an important milestone in December – 40 years since the company’s modest beginnings in a former bookies

In December 2019, Wetherspoon is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

To mark this milestone, several birthday events and activities are planned throughout the year.

During the past 40 years, there have been plenty of achievements and milestones, in no small part thanks to our dedicated staff (currently all 43,000 of them!) and the amazing support of our loyal customers.

Forty years ago, on 9 December 1979, the first Wetherspoon pub opened in north London, in Colney Hatch Lane, Muswell Hill. Formerly, it had been a bookies.

For the first month of trading, it was called Martin’s Free House – after its owner, Wetherspoon’s founder and chairman Tim Martin.

Then, early in the new year of 1980, the pub was renamed Wetherspoons, after Tim’s teacher, who’d taught him at school, when he lived in New Zealand.


In the early years, the company’s pubs were all located in north London, with head office above The Dog, in Archway.

Now, Wetherspoon has almost 900 pubs, in towns and cities across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The first Wetherspoon real-ale festival was launched in 1990, lasting four days and featuring six beers. Humble beginning have evolved into our twice-yearly event, showcasing up to 50 beers each festival, along with ciders.

Always the innovator, Wetherspoon opened its first dedicated non-smoking bar in 1991, upstairs at The Tally Ho, in North Finchley.

The smoking ban in England did not come into force until July 2007.

In 1992, the company was floated on the Stock Exchange, becoming J D Wetherspoon plc, and marked the year with its 50th pub opening – J.J. Moon’s, in Chiswick.

Two years later, the company’s head office moved to its current home in Watford, with the opening of The Moon Under Water, in the Hertfordshire town, being our 100th pub.


Expansion continued into the Midlands and Manchester, before we opened our first pub in Wales in 1996, The John Wallace Linton, in Newport, followed the same year by our first in Scotland, The Counting House, in Glasgow.

Thursdays have never been the same since 1998 saw the launch of our iconic Curry Club, making Wetherspoon the biggest collective curry house in the UK.

The first Wetherspoon hotel also opened in 1998, in Shrewsbury.

The Shrewsbury Hotel

Our 22-bedroom venue The Shrewsbury Hotel, located in the heart of the historic Shropshire market town and overlooking the River Severn, is a popular place to stay – for families, leisure or business.

Now with 58 hotels, adding up to 1,239 rooms nationwide, our accommodation offers superb facilities for a one-night stay or weekend break in ideal locations, as well as Wetherspoon’s great customer service, quality and value.

As the new millennium dawned, Wetherspoon was named ‘Pub Company of the Year’ in 2000 (The Publican Awards), celebrated our 400th pub opening and launched our first pub in Northern Ireland.


In 2002, we opened our 600th pub, The Winter Gardens, in Harrogate, and our charity partnership with CLIC Sargent began in the same year, with the initial aim of raising £500,000.

The Winter Gardens

By 2018, we had celebrated our £16-million fundraising milestone, over 16 years.

New Wetherspoon pub openings continued to advance with our 700th (2008), 800th (2011) and 900th (2013) pub.

We also launched our first pub in the Republic of Ireland (July 2014) with the opening of The Three Tun Tavern, in Blackrock, Dublin.

We currently operate five pubs in the Republic of Ireland, with three more planned for 2019/20, including our biggest hotel project to date – Keavan’s Port Hotel, an 89-bedroom hotel and pub in Dublin city centre.

Across the four decades, we have celebrated numerous awards, accolades and honours, including those for our pubs and beer, food and facilities, staff and training, restoration and design, hygiene and sustainability, flower displays and loos!

Our celebrations continue with a 40th birthday party during 2019.

Keep a look-out at your local Wetherspoon pub and right here in Wetherspoon News for details of forthcoming events and activities throughout the year.