Photography in the Pub

In some ways we’re in a golden age for pub photography as almost everyone now has a relatively powerful camera on their phone, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s simple.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, pho­tos of pubs tend to be of the exte­ri­ors. That’s part­ly because of the avail­abil­i­ty of lights, part­ly because the exte­ri­ors were high­ly dec­o­rat­ed, and also per­haps because drink­ing has been, and maybe still is, a some­what furtive activ­i­ty.

There is the odd his­toric inte­ri­or shot, more often than not tak­en by brew­ery pho­tog­ra­phers to doc­u­ment the decor, and thus usu­al­ly eeri­ly emp­ty. But this one from c.1915, a favourite of ours, is an excep­tion:

Interior of a London pub c.1915.Even there, though, it’s obvi­ous they’ve been told to sit very still and not to smile so it hard­ly looks nat­ur­al. Things start to get real­ly good with Humphrey Spender’s pho­tographs of Bolton pubs for Mass Obser­va­tion, tak­en in the late 1930s. We’ve used a few on the blog before but here’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly dynam­ic exam­ple, where you can almost taste the mild, smell the smoke and hear the clack of the domi­noes on the table:

Men playing dominoes.
Image ref. 1993.83.17.07

Spender snapped quick­ly with­out nec­es­sar­i­ly ask­ing per­mis­sion and occa­sion­al­ly got thrown out by irri­tat­ed land­lords. Eighty years on, the results are total­ly worth it – moments in time, faces, rela­tion­ships, all cap­tured with­out var­nish.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Pho­tog­ra­phy in the Pub”

What Colour Should a Pub Be?

Yesterday Tandleman (@tandleman) posted a load of pictures on Twitter from a 1960s Wilson’s brewery calendar. They’re great because (a) they show pub interiors, which is rare; and (b) they’re in colour.

We couldn’t stop look­ing at them last night: they’re so vibrant and the colour choic­es so… Un-pub­by. Final­ly, steal­ing an idea from @CINEMAPALETTES, we spent a few min­utes com­ing up with these.

1. Classic Pub

A photo of a pub interior with colour pallette at bottom.

2. 1960s Pub
Interior of 1960s pub with colour palette at bottom.
Source: @Tandleman

Even allow­ing for the dif­fer­ence in the style of pho­to – the for­mer was snapped by one of us on a smart­phone in after­noon light; the lat­ter looks stage-lit and Tech­ni­col­or gaudy – that’s quite a dif­fer­ence.

We might do a few more and add them to this post as we go. It would be inter­est­ing to look at a full-on craft beer bar, for exam­ple, most of which, we sus­pect, would be shades of cream and grey. And Samuel Smith pubs would be brown, dark brown, dark­er brown and black-brown, right?

Con­tin­ue read­ing “What Colour Should a Pub Be?”

The Yacht Inn, Penzance, in the 1950s

Strange coincidences and connections have led us to a collection of family photos of one of our favourite local pubs.

A brew­er we inter­viewed last week (Pad­dy at Crossed Anchors) noticed that we had a pic­ture of the fab­u­lous­ly Art Deco Yacht Inn, Pen­zance, as our Twit­ter head­er image. He men­tioned that his great aunt and uncle, Frank and Phyl­lis Glasspool, ran it from 1949-c.1959. He emailed his dad, who emailed a cousin, Susan Glasspool (Bot­taro), who pro­vid­ed the fol­low­ing fan­tas­tic col­lec­tion of pho­tographs and said we could share them here:

It was very hard work there, espe­cial­ly for my moth­er, who did all the cook­ing (plus the extras for the bar, pasties, sand­wich­es etc.), a lot of the clean­ing, and then ran the cock­tail bar in the evenings. Hard to have any fam­i­ly life. Thank good­ness for the swim­ming pool over the road – 10 bob for a sea­son tick­et and I spent all my sum­mers there!

Pub sign with moody sky and sea.
The sign of the Yacht Inn with Mount’s Bay and New­lyn in the back­ground.
A man in a suit sits at the bar while Frank directs his assistant.
Frank Glasspool (left) and ‘Lennie’ (white coat) behind the main bar of the Yacht.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Yacht Inn, Pen­zance, in the 1950s”

GALLERY: Not Always About the Beer

We spent the last week and a bit flying round the north west of England looking at (a) brewery records and (b) pubs.

Sign: Public Bar, Parlour.

We need­ed din­ner near our hotel in Liv­er­pool and stum­bled upon Thomas Rigby’s, an inter-war pub inte­ri­or where class dis­tinc­tions and wait­er ser­vice were alive and well.

The seal of the Birkenhead Brewery Company Limited.

On our way to Port Sun­light we stopped to won­der at the beau­ti­ful but emp­ty shell of a pub half-swal­lowed by a bland 1980s build­ing.

Con­tin­ue read­ingGALLERY: Not Always About the Beer”

GALLERY: Home Front Beer, WWII

We recently discovered the Imperial War Museum digital archive which is (perhaps surprisingly) crammed with pictures of pubs, beer and brewing.

Here are some of the best shots of ‘every­day life’ on the home front dur­ing World War II shared under the terms of their non-com­mer­cial license. (Click the ID num­bers to go to the IWM web­site for big­ger ver­sions and more info.)

A mixed group of uniformed men and a barmaid.
Allied sol­diers in a Lon­don pub, 1940. © IWM (D 1725)
A dimly lit pub with soldiers in discussion.
Home Guard mem­bers in a pub in Orford, Suf­folk, 1941. © IWM (D 4852)

Con­tin­ue read­ingGALLERY: Home Front Beer, WWII