International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
L-R: Staff at the Cheshire Cheese and chef Robbie Lorraine
The Cheshire Cheese on Little Essex Street is inviting people to raise a toast and say cheers to the women who made drinking in pubs more equitable.
Decades ago - in the 1800s - ‘the snug’ at The Cheshire Cheese (Little Essex Street) was a place women went to have a drink in privacy away from judgement. Now in 2023, ‘the snug’ is a space women can publicly enjoy events, drinks, and celebrations. A lot has changed in the ‘snug’ since the 19th century but one thing that has remained the same is the decorative charm.
The Cheshire Cheese pub is located a couple of minutes from the renowned Fleet Street, so the pub has always been a firm favourite for tourists, journalists from the leading newspapers and legal professionals to meet at, chat, drink and catch up.
It was a legal professional and a journalist who were involved in a landmark case which created a big change to making drinking in pubs more equitable. Until 1982 it was unheard of for women to stand and order drinks at the bar. Instead they were expected to sit at designated tables away from the main bar and have their drinks ordered by a male companion.
When lawyer Tess Gill and journalist Anna Coote were banned from a bar on Fleet Street for standing with their male colleagues at the bar rather than sitting at the tables, they took their case to the Court of Appeal because banning them for this was actually against the law, under the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975.
Some people described this as ‘a storm in a sherry glass’ but they won their case which meant that women could no longer be refused service in pubs. The victory was greeted with cheers by men and women.
Olga Molodcova, Bar Manager at The Cheshire Cheese, said: “It is fascinating that so much has changed in pubs over the past few decades. The fact that significant moments in history have happened so close by to our pub makes being in this historic area of London feel so interesting. The Cheshire Cheese is a hidden gem full of charm as well as great drinks.
"I am proud that nowadays that pubs are not only visited by women but they are run by women too. And some of this change is thanks to women like Tess Gill and Anna Coote."
"But there is still a long way to go for equity in many areas of life in fact some venues in London still do not welcome women into the bar area. ”
All year around The Cheshire Cheese continues to blaze a trail for equality, and now proudly hosts comedy nights by LGBTQ+ comedy outfit Slippery When Wet. The jovial, welcoming atmosphere on comedy nights (and every other night for that matter!) is a far cry from the segregation of the past. The Cheshire Cheese encourages everyone - regardless of their gender or sexual orientation - to come along for a wonderful night out.
On IWD (Wednesday 8 March) The Cheshire Cheese is offering 10% off drinks for women all day and night.
Find out more about what is on offer at: www.thecheshirecheesestrand.co.uk
Multi award-winning chef, Robbie Lorraine also took permanent residency at The Cheshire Cheese in December. His restaurant, Only Food and Courses, offers an 80s and 90s inspired supper club serving a six-course menu. More information at: www.onlyfoodandcourses.com Robbie is also competing on the BBC's Great British Menu 2023.