|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Place|
|The Leaky Cauldron|
|Location||London, Charing Cross Road|
|Permanent Residents||Tom (last name unknown)|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone|
The Leaky Cauldron is a popular Wizarding pub in London. It is the entrance to Diagon Alley. For much of the end of the 20th Century, Tom was the landlord.
The pub was built by Daisy Dodderidge in 1500 "to serve as a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley." It rents rooms, has a bar, several private parlor rooms, and a large dining room.
To Muggles, the pub appears to be a broken-down old shop front on Charing Cross Road. The rear of the pub, however, opens up onto a chilly courtyard and the entrance to Diagon Alley. To gain access, a witch or wizard taps a specific brick in the wall with his or her wand. A doorway to Diagon Alley then forms which then re-arranges back to the original wall after the person(s) walk through.
Harry is re-introduced to the Wizarding World on his 11th birthday, July 31st 1991, by Rubeus Hagrid. A major part of that re-introduction happens when Hagrid escorts Harry through The Leaky Cauldron. Harry is embarrassed to find out that he has been famous all his life, all the more because it is for something he has no recollection of doing.
Harry spends the last fortnight of his summer vacation in his third year at Hogwarts living in The Leaky Cauldron. This is done, apparently, to protect him from the escaped murderer, Sirius Black. During this time, watching the clientele of the Leaky Cauldron, Harry believes that he sees a hag.
In Harry's sixth year, we are shown a memory of Professor Dumbledore's in which the young Tom Riddle is told to ask the landlord at the Leaky Cauldron for help getting in to Diagon Alley. The landlord's name is then given as Tom. As internal evidence in the series suggests Tom Riddle was born in the early 1920s, and at the time of Dumbledore's memory he would have been 11, Tom would have been the landlord in about 1930 as he was up until the end of the Potter series, in 1998. If he has been landlord of The Leaky Cauldron for sixty years when Harry first sees him, it is little wonder that Harry thinks him extremely old and compares him to "a gummy walnut".
Tom is still behind the bar in the final book in the series, when the Trio pass through on their way to Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank.
In a sort of running gag, it is mentioned that a hopeful look appears on the innkeeper's face when we see Hagrid enter the Leaky Cauldron, but Hagrid apologizes, saying he is only there on Hogwarts business. Even Hagrid, no doubt, will seldom go to London for a drink, living as he does at Hogwarts where the Three Broomsticks, and even the Hog's Head, are more convenient options. But we can guess that large quantities he would consume when he does appear, fitting as they are with his enormous size, will have left their impression on the bar-keeper.
As is mentioned in the article about the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, British village life, and to a large extent British city life, revolves around the pub, the "home away from home" for most British people. It is unsurprising that there should be a Wizarding pub in London; and equally it should come as no surprise that the pub acts as a connection between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. Pubs quite often acted as rest stops for horse-drawn carriages, and so often marked transitions in travel; making a pub also serve as the transition to magical London seems a simple extension of that.
In the article on Hogwarts, it was calculated that, based on the population of the school, there is one wizard for every 6,000 Muggles. Given a Muggle population of 7.1 million in Greater London as of 2001, this gives a total of about 1,200 wizards in all of London. This population would represent a fairly small village, spread over a significant geographical space. As wizards will tend to congregate, for instance in the villages of Hogsmeade and Godric's Hollow, it is likely that in fact there are fewer than a thousand wizards in London. All the same, they will need places where they can meet and be assured that no Muggles will be alarmed by their actions, and what better place than a pub? And just as a Muggle village of a thousand people can support two or three pubs, so could we expect that the London wizard population could support the Leaky Cauldron, plus possibly two or more others.
Like many pubs, the Leaky Cauldron serves as something of a neutral ground. Harry notes that he believes he sees a hag there, and even under the Death Eaters, people are still visiting and Tom is still in business. As mentioned in the article on the Hog's Head, there are pubs which position themselves for the family trade, and those which provide a home for the less savory interactions; the Leaky Cauldron is quite firmly in the former category, catering as it does for the families of Hogwarts students as they shop each August for the needs of their upcoming term. We can assume that shadier business is transacted in the darker corners, but we don't see it.
The author has said in interviews after publication of the seventh book in the series that the pub is later taken over by Hannah Abbott, who has married Neville Longbottom, then professor of Herbology at Hogwarts. It is our opinion that this is not canon, and is unsupported by anything in the books; all we really know about Hannah is her family's encounters with Death Eaters, and that she seems to get extremely nervous at exam time. Like so much else that has come to light in interviews after publication, it seems that this "fact" may have been made up on the spur of the moment in order to please the fans.