Since 2001, London has lost 1200 of its 5000 pubs and gained perhaps 1500 new churches.
Pubs: The Economist 1 reports a decline from 4,835 pubs in 2001 to 3,615 in 2016.
Churches: as for churches, Peter Brierley’s London Church Census, the last detailed analysis of London church growth I am aware of, measured 1000 churches opening and 300 closing in the period 2005-2012, a net gain of 100 churches per year; two a week. More than 700,000 Londoners were in church on a typical Sunday in 2012 compared with 600,000 in 2005. Extrapolating roughly, it’s likely that since the turn of the century, the growth of churches in the capital has at least matched the decline of pubs.
Of course, pubs and churches are not particularly in competition with each other or serving exactly the same clients. Perhaps the real competition is between getting people to meet together compared with staying home in front of ever more high definition screens.
But I’m more interested in how the facts depart from the “facts”, that “everyone knows” – which are that London’s pubs are teeming, while London’s churches become ever more irrelevant.