Thursday, 26 November 2009

The London Pub

For those of you not fortunate enough to have experienced the delights of the traditional London Pub then this record and magazine will come in handy. I picked my copy up for 10p at a local Charity Shop but I'm sure most good Newsagents will still be stocking it. If not, try asking them to order it in - it's only 18/6d.

Produced in 1970 by Fabbri & Partners Limited it features an in depth history of the 'Pub' and a guide to some of London's most famous drinking holes. Spread across fourteen A3 pages, accompanied by lovely late '60s period photography, its the definitive guide to London pubs.

"No one knows London until one knows its pubs. Londoners could struggle along without Big Ben or Tower Bridge or the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. They would complain if someone stole Nelson's Column but life would go on. London without pubs though? Unthinkable!
Pubs are there, says the dictionary, to sell intoxicating liquors on the premises. That's all the dictionary knows! Pubs do sell drink, and I'll drink to that, but this is only the start of it. The pub is a place to meet old friends and sometimes to make new ones, a place to talk, to argue, to set the world to rights. It is a place to be alone in, if alone is what you want to be, a place to relax in, a place to take the edge off the day. An hour in a pub can cheer you up or calm you down. There is something reassuring about a good pub. It is always on your side.
There are bad pubs too of course, plenty of them, but there is a place for these as well. One man's bad pub is another man's home from home. There are, after all, more than 7000 pubs in London and no one can be expected to like them all". And so it goes on...

The booklet further traces the history of the pub back some one thousand years and through to the present day (1970 in this case). It features photos of famous spots like the trendy 'Chelsea Drug Store' on Kings Road and 'The Thomas a Beckett' down Old Kent Road where you might have been lucky enough to raise a glass with the big man 'Enry Cooper! The booklet also includes a 10" record tucked away in the flipback cover - the reason I bought this item in the first place. I wasn't expecting anything more than the usual recording of a good old Cockney knees up (which is exactly what you get) and bought this purely for the novelty value.

For those of you who haven't had the opportunity of spending a night down a typical London boozer then soak up the atmosphere by clicking the player below. I decided to record the B-side as it features some of my favourites which are undoubtedly bonafied classics - 'Knees Up Mother Brown', 'Daisy Bell' and the anthem 'Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner'.

Of course,
all London pubs are exactly like this - even today. Walk into any random establishment and you're guaranteed to find some jolly old fella twinklin' the ivory surrounded by a group of merry revellers who welcome all strangers with open arms. Pick one from the guide on the back cover and go see for yourself. I've heard the 'Dover Arms' in Shadwell is a pretty friendly place.

Doreen Cox & Michael Price 'London Pub Classics'

Front cover (click to enlarge)

Back cover (click to enlarge)

No comments: