First Wetherspoon opens
The first pub, a former bookies’, opens in Colney Hatch Lane, Muswell Hill, north London, on 9 December. For the first month, it was called Martin’s Free House, but was renamed Wetherspoon’s early in the new year.
The early years
For the first few years, the company’s pubs were all located in north London, with the head office above The Dog in Archway.
First Real-Ale Festival
Wetherspoon pubs host their first real-ale festival. It lasted four days and featured six beers (nowadays, each Wetherspoon pub is involved in the twice-yearly beer festival, offering up to 50 beers each, 10 of which are from overseas).
The Tally Ho, North Finchley, London, opens with a dedicated non-smoking bar upstairs. This was the first of many pioneering initiatives which we carried out before the smoking ban in July 2007.
Cleanliness, Beer, Service
The company starts its CBS scheme, highlighting cleanliness, beer and service.
The scheme, still in operation, is aimed at ensuring that standards are always at the highest level as a result of inspections from head-office staff and senior management.
The first edition of Wetherspoon News is produced. The eight-page black-and-white magazine was offered free to all customers.
Hamilton Hall opens
We open Hamilton Hall, Liverpool Street Station in London – our first pub in the City and at a train station.
First airport pubs open
Wetherspoon opens its first two airport pubs – at Heathrow Airport, in Terminal 4.
Our pubs are now spread across several UK airports.
The company is floated on the Stock Exchange and becomes J D Wetherspoon plc. The shares were issued at £1.60 – taking into account later share splits, the equivalent price today would be about 30p!
50th pub opens
The company opens its 50th pub, J.J. Moon’s, in Chiswick, west London.
Pub Chain of the Year
Recognition of the company and its pubs comes when it is named ‘pub chain of the year’ by the influential Good Pub Guide.
The first pubs outside of London open – The Old Manor, Bracknell and The Bell, Norwich.
All pubs get non-smoking areas
Wetherspoon goes one step further in offering the perfect pub, by introducing non-smoking areas in each of its pubs – a major change in the pub industry.
Training centre opens
Staff training has always been high on the agenda, and the company opens its first dedicated training centre.
The company’s head office moves from North Finchley to Watford, where it remains today.
Hundredth pub opens
Wetherspoon opens its 100th pub, The Moon Under Water, in Watford, Hertfordshire.
We reach the Midlands
The Square Peg, Birmingham, built on the site of a former department store, becomes the company’s first pub in the Midlands.
First pub in Manchester opens
The people of Manchester can enjoy their first Wetherspoon pub, when The Moon under Water on Deansgate opens in the city centre.
The pub, with approximately 10,000 square feet of customer space, entered The Guinness Book of Records as the largest pub in the UK.
Welcome to Wales
We open our first pub in Wales, in Newport. It was originally called Wetherspoons and was later renamed The John Wallace Linton.
150th pub opens
Two milestones: the 150th pub opens – The Sun at Redhill, Surrey – and overall sales for the company reach £100 million for the first time.
First pub in Scotland
We open our first pub in Scotland – The The Counting House, Glasgow.
New house wine launched
Wetherspoon pubs introduce a new house wine – Fetzer Coldwater Creek from California – still popular in our pubs today.
200th pub opens
The Regal Moon, in Rochdale, Lancashire, becomes the 200th Wetherspoon pub to open.
We open 20 pubs in one month (July 1998), including seven on the same day – our busiest opening period ever!
Meal deals launched
Wetherspoon launches the Curry Club®, Wetherspoon’s iconic curry night. Today, customers can still enjoy our pubs’ unrivalled selection of curries (together with a drink) at an unbeatable price.
The first hotel opens
Shrewsbury becomes the location for the company’s first hotel, when the 22-bedroom Shrewsbury Hotel opens alongside the Wetherspoon pub in the Shropshire town.
300th pub opens
The Rodboro Buildings, Guildford, a former car factory, becomes the 300th Wetherspoon pub.
Steak Club launched
Steak Out (the forerunner of today’s Steak Club®) was launched – a 10oz steak for £5.99, although no inclusive drink.
Our 20th birthday
We celebrate our 20th birthday.
First Northern Ireland pub
The first Wetherspoon pub opens in Northern Ireland, The Spinning Mule, Ballymena, Belfast.
400th pub opens
Wetherspoon opens its 400th pub.
Pub Company of the Year!
The company is named Pub of Company of the Year (The Publican Awards) and also wins The Retailers’ Retailer of the Year award.
500th pub opens
The 500th Wethespoon pub opens, The Picture Palace, Enfield, North London.
Fastest-growing UK company
Wetherspoon is recognised as the fastest-growing company in the UK and the 9th fastest-growing company in Europe (we are still growing!).
Loo of the Year for the 1st time
Wetherspoon has always taken great pride in the quality of its loos. In 2001, it was a multi award-winner in the Loo of the Year awards (recognition for the high standards of our loos continues to this day, with hundreds of awards).
Awarded the NITA Supreme Award
Wetherspoon wins the prestigious Supreme Award at the British Institute of Innkeeping Training Awards (NITAs) for the second successive year. Since then, we have been awarded a total of eight NITAs, recognising the quality of training provided at all levels.
We begin our ongoing relationship with the charity CLIC Sargent (Cancer & Leukaemia in Children). Our aim was to raise £500,000. The relationship is still going from strength to strength, with more than £11 million raised by our staff and customers.
600th pub opens
The 600th Wetherspoon pub opens, The Winter Gardens, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
We start a breakfast revolution
Wetherspoon starts a breakfast revolution, opening all pubs for breakfast six days a week.
World’s number-one seller of Pimm’s!
Our customers raise more than a glass of Pimm’s to celebrate the fact that Wetherspoon is officially the number-one seller of the drink in the world.
£1,000,000 raised for CLIC Sargent!
We hit our £1-million target for CLIC Sargent and the company sets another target: £2 million.
Free Wi-Fi available
Customers enjoy free Wi-Fi in all pubs.
Named the ‘Most Responsible Managed Pub Chain’
Wetherspoon is named the ‘Most Responsible Managed Pub Chain’ in the Responsible Drinks Retailing Awards.
Our first opera
Opera comes to one of our pubs as The Royal Opera House, in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, hosts the first opera in a Wetherspoon pub. The pub is closed for the occasion and returned to its original use as the three performances are a sell-out, becoming an annual event.
The Knights Templar, Chancery Lane, London is granted a wedding licence and hosts its first wedding (it is still a popular venue today).
Brewers from Japan and USA invited to take part in our beer festival
From humble beginnings, the company-wide beer festival takes a new and exciting twist as we invite award-winning international brewers to come to the UK and brew their beers at UK breweries – to be served exclusively at the festival.
A new world record
Wetherspoon customers set a new Guinness World Record, when 17,540 of our customers attend the world’s largest-ever synchronised wine-tasting event – smashing the previous record by over 12,000 people!
Wetherspoon reaches 700 pubs
The Silkstone Inn, Barnsley becomes the 700th pub.
Wetherspoon celebrates its 30th birthday.
A great year is rewarded
It is a year full of awards – these include a Green Apple Award to recognise our commitment to the environment, plus an award for our food, as well as being included in a list of Britain’s Top 100 Employers (for the sixth consecutive year).
Awarded Pub Company of the Year for the second time
Wetherspoon is, once again, named Pub Company of the Year at The Publican Awards.
Eight hundredth pub opens
The 800th pub opens – The Unicorn, Ripon, which is also a 32-bedroom hotel.
Fish Friday launched
We launch our fourth club, still a favourite – Fish Friday® – hand-battered cod or haddock, with chips and a drink.
Over 250 pubs in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide
The company continues to receive recognition for the quality of its beer, with over 250 of its pubs, more than any other pub company, featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
Nine hundredth pub opens
The 900th Wetherspoon pub opens, The Poulton Elk, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.
First pubs opened in Ireland
In July, the first pub opens in Ireland, The Three Tun Tavern, Blackrock, Dublin followed by the second pub, The Forty Foot, Dún Laoghaire
Annual sales exceed £1.5 billion; the company employs more than 35,000 staff.
Republic of Ireland
A further three pubs open in Ireland.
Stay with us
We reach over 50 hotels and over 1,000 rooms.
Spoons Carpets is published, revealing that the carpet in each pub is individually designed to reflect the history of the pub and local area.
Download. Order. Enjoy.
The Wetherspoon app gives customers the ability to order and pay for their food and drinks on their phone and have them delivered to their table.
Pizzas start to appear on the menu. Plastic straws are replaced with paper ones. The company introduces front-of-house self-service hot drinks machines, allowing customers to enjoy unlimited free refills on hot drinks.
Desert Island Discs
Tim Martin is a guest of Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs.