An artist from south east London is on a mission to draw the 3,450 pubs in London and is documenting her journey on social media.

Lydia Wood, based in Catford, began drawing the pubs of London in 2021, taking commissions to draw them at a time when pubs were in “a difficult position” due to Covid-19 restrictions.

At the time, Lydia was working two jobs and taking pencil drawing commissions of houses, wedding venues and other events, but aspired to be seen as a pub artist.

News Shopper: Lydia travels around London sketching pubs freehandLydia travels around London sketching pubs freehand (Image: Lydia Wood)

Lydia explained: “When I started drawing pubs, I was able to connect with them more on a deeper level compared to drawing a house which is super personal.

“They mean a lot to the communities they belong to and it was just another excuse for me to try them as well.”

News Shopper: Lydia sketching Turner's Old StarLydia sketching Turner's Old Star (Image: Lydia Wood)

After drawing many pubs, the artist resolved that she “might as well just be drawing all of them” and The Pub Project was born.

It began with Lydia’s local pub – The Blythe Hill Tavern in 2020 – and since drawing her first pub she has drawn around 300 others to date.

News Shopper: Lydia began with a sketch of her local, the Blythe Hill TavernLydia began with a sketch of her local, the Blythe Hill Tavern (Image: Lydia Wood)

She now documents the pubs she draws with her 42,000 Instagram followers and added that she is “getting so many requests” from punters looking for their favourite pubs to be drawn in London, as well as other parts of the UK like Brighton and Bath.

Lydia explained: “People love pubs, I have a lot of followers who are from America and Australia, and they love the heritage and history connected with them.

“When I started drawing them it felt like a common interest of a lot of people that I was talking to.”

The 30-year-old Fine Art graduate, who studied at a south east London university, works from her studio in Woolwich and travels to pubs around London sketching them free-hand, adding that she “never revisits a drawing” after it’s been completed.

The artist has sketched around 100 pubs in south east London including famous ones such as The Pelton Arms, used as a filming location for Only Fools and Horses, and The Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, which she described as “a bougie pub with nice food.”

News Shopper: The Pelton Arms was in the Only Fools and Horses prequel Rock & Chips.The Pelton Arms was in the Only Fools and Horses prequel Rock & Chips. (Image: Lydia Wood)

Some of the other pubs in her list that she has drawn include Skehan's in Nunhead, the Dog & Bell in Deptford and the Fox & Firkin in Lewisham.

Although, sometimes Lydia’s work has its more sombre moments, and with more pubs closing in recent years, Lydia’s drawings have also been about “capturing” pubs as they are before closing.

News Shopper: Lydia shares her sketches with her Instagram followersLydia shares her sketches with her Instagram followers (Image: Lydia Wood)

Lydia said: “I visited the White Hart in New Cross and drew it just as it was about to close, I remember that because that used to be a local of mine when I was a student.

“But it’s not just pubs that close, sometimes they change and look very different to how they did originally.

News Shopper: Lydia has drawn around 300 pubs so farLydia has drawn around 300 pubs so far (Image: Lydia Wood)

“The culture around pubs has changed a lot, people aren’t going during lunchtime as much for a drink, but I think pubs are adapting to those changes which is amazing.

“And the documentation side is for sure interesting, this project will become a documentation of pubs during my lifetime I suppose.”

The artist has also drawn some of London’s oldest pubs including The Mayflower in Rotherhithe and The George in Borough and added that the history was “a really interesting side” of her work.

News Shopper: Lydia's sketch of The George Inn, SE1Lydia's sketch of The George Inn, SE1 (Image: Lydia Wood)

Lydia continues to work on the Pub Project, adding new pubs to her drawn list every week, and also sells prints and calendars of her artwork on her website for fans of her work.

Currently Lydia has drawn 300 of the pubs in London and added that she estimates the project to take around 25 years to complete.

Lydia told News Shopper: “At the rate I’m going I estimate it will probably take me around 25 years to complete this project, which I know may frustrate people but I want to give each pub the attention it deserves.

“If that changes and I can draw them everyday I may be able to get them done in the next ten years, but we’ll see.

“It’s not one of the most easy projects I’ve set myself, but it is very rewarding for me and something people love to see.”