This page attempts to explain the significance and meaning behind the Albion Inn Sign. Research is augmented with photographs of pub signs.


Inn Signs

Background Information
I found the first inn sign in the gallery above when it was on display in the beer garden of the Albion Inn at Wall Heath. I wish more pubs would recycle their inn signs in this fashion.

Albion appears in a number of inn signs such as the Albion Inn or Albion Vaults or even Albion Shades. The word Albion is a poetic name for Great Britain and is thought to derive from the Latin 'Albus' or 'White.' This Roman term arose from the whiteness of the cliffs on Britain's southern coast and was almost certainly applied during the invasion and conquest of AD43.

This is the scene illustrated by many sign artists, and they generally display a Roman vessel heading towards the coast of Britain. However, sometimes the Albion inn sign follows the tradition of illustrating a ship of that name. There was a famous HMS Albion, a ninety gun frigate which was built in Cornwall.

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The term Albion is famously remembered in the phrase 'perfidious Albion', which came into common use during the Napoleonic Wars though was first recorded in a poem of 1793 by Augustin, Marquis of Ximenez. In this work, it recommends attacking perfidious Albion at sea.

And now that I've told you all this I'm about to throw a spanner in the works by telling you that Aristotle used the word Albion long before the Romans when he was describing the island in the Atlantic ocean next to Hibernia [Ireland], both of which he reported as lying beyond the Pillars of Hercules [Strait of Gibraltar].

The two inn signs on the right are from the same pub but with almost 20 years separating them. The pub is not too far from the Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion, so the licensee has decided to nail his colours to the mast and display a footballer for The Baggies.

The last time Albion won the F. A. Cup was in 1968 when 'Fantasy Football' singing star, Jeff Astle, scored the winner in extra time against Everton. Even after his death, he is still a hero in and around the town, although some fans will still say that Albion's greatest player was Jesse Pennington. He first played for the club in 1903 when his pay was a mere 30 shillings a week. He went on to play for England on 25 occasions.

Albion are popularly called 'The Baggies' in the Black Country but their official nickname is The Throstles. Jesse Pennington was once asked how this name came about and he stated that 'in the early days they had a rope instead of a crossbar and one day a thrush landed on it.' The Baggies name was given when the Albion used to play in the baggiest shorts around. They were baggier than the baggy trousers in the Madness hit. Honest. However, they couldn't have been bigger than those things you were forced to wear if you forgot your PE kit.

The sign above E. M. Forster features H.M.S. Albion, perhaps because of the pub's proximity to Diglis Basin. At the time of this inn sign being hung outside the pub in Worcester there had been nine ships of the Royal Navy that have sailed under the name of Albion. The earliest was a 74-gun third-rate ship launched in 1763. In 1947 the name was given to a Centaur-class aircraft carrier that was later converted into a commando carrier.
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Inn Sign
Inn sign of the Albion Inn at Stamford [1991]

Inn sign of the Albion Inn at Tividale [1989]

Inn sign of the Albion Inn at Tividale [2008]

Links to other Websites
Inn Sign Society

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Featured Inn Signs
Click here for a list of inn signs featured on the website, along with an overview of British pub signs.

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Inn Sign
Inn sign of the Albion Inn at Wall Heath [2012]

Inn sign of the Albion Inn at Worcester [2009]

E. M. Forster
"The Germans are called brutal, the Spanish cruel, the Americans superficial, and so on; but we are perfide Albion, the island of hypocrites, the people who have built up an Empire with a Bible in one hand, a pistol in the other, and financial concessions in both pockets. Is the charge true? I think it is.
E. M. Forster


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