There is very little documentary evidence of the early history of the construction, adaptation and expansion of the George & Dragon – that led to its 20th century existence as a music venue, Band on the Wall. However, by reference to street and trade directories, census records, maps, Poor Rate Books and other sources, we have been able to assemble a record, at times tentative, of the evolution of the building and its annexed adjacent buildings that comprised the George & Dragon into the beginning of the 20th century.
There is no simple answer to the question ‘Who built Band on the Wall?’ or even ‘When was it built?’ In fact, one could argue that it was not built, at least not in one phase: it evolved.
In 1905, at a mid-point in its history so far, the George and Dragon, the music venue’s historical name, simultaneously comprised several connected addresses: in Swan Street at the front, Oak Street at the side and Goadsby Street at the back. At various times in the prior 100 years these premises displayed a remarkable array of uses and trades, while almost continuously including a pub:
*fent – dyed or printed dress, curtain or upholstery fabric
In addition to all of these trades, professions and services, many families lived a large part of their lives there; many children would have been born and brought up in the living accommodation on the premises: upstairs, downstairs and in the cellars. To say that the George & Dragon/Band on the Wall has its historic roots in the community would be something of an understatement.
The venue’s long history, its variety of owners, occupants and uses present something of a jig-saw puzzle for the researcher seeking to describe the construction, adaptation and evolution of the buildings. It is a puzzle with many missing pieces. As a result this chapter on the physical history of Band on the Wall can never be the full and finished story.