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beer in fiction / tv london pubs

London in the Raw

The British Film Institute is doing a great job of preserving documentaries, with multiple volumes of DVDs collecting COI, British Transport Film Unit and GPO shorts.

London in the Raw (1964) is released as part of their Flipside series and is a seedy exploitation film in the style of Mondo Cane. It’s interesting in itself, and features lots of footage of bars, pubs and clubs in the 1960s, including an extended sequence set in the Waterman’s Arms.

For those with an interest in beer and pubs, though, the real treat is the short documentary Pub (1962) which appears as a bonus on the disc. It’s only 16 minutes long and was filmed by a Londoner, Peter Davis, for Swedish television. It’s set in the Approach Tavern near Victoria Park in East London and shows a typical evening in the pub.

A couple of things stand out. First, it looks cold — people are dressed in hats, coats and heavy sweaters throughout. Were pubs unheated back then? Secondly, they drink a lot of bottled beer, and a fair bit of it is stout. Labels for Guinness, Courage Bristol Stout, Worthington White Shield and Meux Friary Ale are all visible at one point or another.

6 replies on “London in the Raw”

I’m going to order this today. The Approach is one of my old locals.

As for all those bottles – my father in law, born on the other side of Victoria Park in Hackney, maintains that the popularity of Light and Bitter was that it came with a bottle, and in his own father’s youth a bottle could be a very handy deterrent in certain East End neighbourhoods.

Haven’t seen that (yet) – but it looks just the thing for my collection, like Primitive London which is in the same Flipside series. I’ve just replaced my copy of Look At Life, which I somehow lost. It’s a collection of short documentaries that Rank did to show before their feature films. Great stuff.

Pubs were not unheated back then, but in the days before the general adoption of central heating nobody would dream of being indoors in shirtsleeves in the colder half of the year.

Yeah wot the Curmudgeon said. If you look at early episodes of Coronation St, you’ll see them wrapped up in the pub. You sometimes forget what is was like in the good old days.

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