20th Century Pub pubs

The Alpine Gasthof: let’s crack this

The Alpine Gasthof in Rochdale is something of a mystery. Why is there a replica of a German building in Lancashire? When was it built? And who designed it?

We wrote the first version of this post in 2017 when we were researching an article about German Bierkellers in English towns – a major trend in the 1970s.

The Gasthof, without doubt one of the UK’s weirdest pubs, became a side quest.

We’ve still never been, and might have missed our window, as it seems to have been closed for several years.

Instead, we had to rely on sources such as Tandleman’s post after a visit in 2017:

Perhaps the oddest of Sam Smith’s pubs is its take-off of a German local pub, uprooted it seems, in looks if nothing else, from Garmisch or some other Alpine resort. Only it is in Rochdale. Not only is it in Rochdale, but it is on a busy main road, which if you follow it for not too long, will take you to Bacup. This is the Land that Time Forgot. Don’t do that… Not only is it incongruously in Rochdale, but it is in a less than salubrious part of town… The pub has the usual German style high sloping roof and inside is, well, a sort of pastiche of a German pub, but done, unusually for Sam’s, sort of on the cheap.

Although there were lots of photos, and though everyone seemed quite fascinated by the place, there didn’t seem to be many concrete facts.

We didn’t hold out great hopes for any information from the brewery which is notoriously tight-lipped but did get this, which is a start:

The Alpine Gasthof was built in the 1970s (don’t have the exact date to hand) because the previous pub we had on that site had to be demolished for road widening. To have a bit of fun we decided to build a pub modelled on the Brauerei Gasthof Hotel in Aying, Germany because at that time we were brewing Ayinger beer under licence.

(OK, this is embarrassing, though – we can’t find our source for that information. The way we worded this in 2017 make sit sound as if we did get some kind of communication from the brewery, which doesn’t seem likely.)

We can well imagine Sam Smith’s execs going to Aying during licence negotiations and being charmed by the original, pictured here in a shot taken from the gallery on the hotel website.

Brauereigasthof-Hotel-Aying exterior: a typical German-style building with green shutters and a high sloping roof.

Although, oddly, the pastiche doesn’t look that much like it. Here it is photographed in 2013, via Ian S on under a Creative Commons Licence:

The Alpine Gasthof, Rochdale, another typical German style buiulding with shutters, balconies and a high sloping roof.

With a bit more to go on we reckon we can guess that the date of its construction was around 1972, at the tail-end of the theme pub craze (Further reading: Chapter 5 in 20th Century Pub) and just as the German Bierkeller trend was kicking in.

That’s also when Sam Smith’s started brewing Ayinger-branded beers.

But we were awful short on actual evidence. We thought this might be something…

A Google Books snippet view extract from International  Brewing & Distilling from 1972 which mentions an Ayingerbrau Gasthof opening at Wetherby in Yorkshire.

…but there are two problems.

First, though Google Books has the date of publication as 1972 the particular issue referencing the Alpine Gasthof might be from, say, 1978.

We’ve come across this problem in the past. It’s hard to know until you have the journal in front of you, fully readable. Secondly… It says Wetherby, Yorkshire.

Surely some mistake? But, no, apparently not — there is at least one other (slightly odd) reference to an Alpine Gasthaus in Wetherby, giving the address as Boroughbridge Road, LS22 5HH.

That led us to this local news story about the burning down in 2005 of the Alpine Lodge, a two-storey chalet-style building in Kirk Deighton (Wetherby).

There are various other bits out there including this interview with the couple who ran it for several decades and a teasingly indistinct photo taken from a moving car in bright sunlight on this Facebook nostalgia website.

We’ve taken the liberty of reproducing it here, with some tweaks — hopefully no-one will mind.

The Alpine Inn AKA the Alpine Lodge, at the side of a main road, in a grainy old photograph.

What a bizarre building to find there on the side of the A1.

And that leaves us with two Alpine-style Sam Smith’s pubs to be puzzled about.

So, do drop us a line if you know anything concrete about the origins of either pub (that is, not reckonings or guesses); have friends or family members who might have drunk in them; or live near either Rochdale or Wetherby and fancy popping to your local library to look at newspapers for 1972.

An update for 2023

Six years later, we’ve come back to this post with a little fresh information.

Neil Whittaker got in touch earlier this year with this nugget of information on the Alpine Gasthof, with some minor edits for clarity:

My dad was the architect. He was Donald Whittaker of Whittaker Design in Oldham.

He passed sadly in 1999 but the business is alive and has just celebrated 50 years.

He visited Garmisch in Bavaria to do his research.

He was away for weeks, obviously needing to accurately sample the beer Kellers unique atmosphere.

I missed him as I was only 10 but he brought me some lovely model cars back so it was worth it.

He did a lot of work for Sam Smith’s, including the unique Pullman carriage attached to the Yew Tree in Thornham, Rochdale, which was the restaraunt in the 1970s and 80s. It is sadly long gone, although the pub remains.

He was also responsible for a J.W. Lees pub in the ski resort of Flaine in France, bringing their terrible tulip lager to the alps in around 1978!

Thanks to new additions to the British Newspaper Archive we’ve also been able to get closer to pinning down the date of Gasthof’s opening.

A promotional article in The Rochdale Observer for 7 March 1979 refers to the pub as having been open for “a little over four years”, allowing us to pin it down to late 1974 or early 1975.

The article also gives us a glimpse of its operation at the time:

Since last September it has been under the management of Stephen and Lesley Fagan, who have put it on the map for more than just its excellent food… When the Gasthof was opened the owners, Samuel Smith’s Brewery, went to great pains to bring an authentic atmosphere. They imported antique furnishings and modern pineware from Bavaria… It has a strong flavour of Bavaria in its menu, with Austrian dishes alongside English favourites… For example, among the appetisers is Kartoffelpuffer, which are potato pancakes… Fish with sauerkraut is another delicacy… Among the sweets, the Bavarian style hot cherries are delicious.

One observation we’ve often made about theme pubs, however, is that they usually strayed from the original concept after only a few years.

The Gasthof was built with food as its primary offer, and lager as the focus. By 1979, the Fagans were downplaying food, eager to get more drinkers in. The menu had gained more traditional English dishes. And, in keeping with the trends of the time, had started serving real ale “from the wood”.

20th Century Pub pubs

The Venetian Coffee Bar at The Royal Oak, 1955

In December 1955 Whitbread opened an espresso bar in a pub in Paddington, London. We wrote about this in a post last year but now we’ve found more details, and photos.

The Venetian Coffee Bar got an entire feature in Whitbread’s in-house magazine, The House of Whitbread, in spring 1956.

The article gives us a few details that weren’t in the newspaper reports, including the specific date of the launch party – 6 December 1955.

The photos of the launch party are slightly more interesting than usual, too. They show the famously hammy British horror actor Tod Slaughter in attendance, dressed in fine Victorian style, shortly before his death in February 1956.

A group of people in formal wear drinking from stemmed glasses.
Tod Slaughter is the man in this picture who looks as if he would be called Tod Slaughter.

The article tells us that Whitbread only acquired the pub in February 1955, having supplied it for years.

It goes on to fill in some details of the artists and architects involved in the renovation:

Richard Lonsdale-Hands Associates were commissioned to carry out the interior decoration in accordance with the company’s policy of establishing distinctive houses with an individual atmosphere. The murals were painted by Mr Peter Stebbing.

If you’ve followed us for a while, or read 20th Century Pub, you’ll know that we’re a bit obsessed with theme pubs but it hadn’t occurred to us that this might count as one.

Lonsdale-Hands was involved in several high-profile projects for Whitbread including interior design for its flagship post-war project in Leicester Square, The Samuel Whitbread. He also put together a collection of cricketing memorabilia for The Yorker on Piccadilly, which also opened in 1955.

Stebbing is an interesting character, too, from what little concrete information we can find. He was well-known in his day and his wedding was reported in Tatler.

His particular area of expertise was painting trompe l’oeil murals – a useful trick in theme pubs when you need to add scale and ‘production value’ without additional construction.

His involvement also says something, we think, about:

  1. the amount of money Whitbread was throwing at these projects
  2. the meeting of art and commerce in the ‘new Elizabethan age’

Another pleasing detail in the article is an explanation of why Paddington was chosen as the location for this particular experiment:

In a neighbourhood where many Continentals live who enjoy a coffee and liqueur, and were born boulevardiers, The Venetian meets an evident need. It should have a particular appeal to the ‘under twenties’.

And, of course, Paddington does have those lovely canals. Little Venice, in fact, they call it.

20th Century Pub pubs

Keith Waterhouse on ‘The Pubs we Deserve?’, 1974

In 1974, everyone was talking about beer and pubs – or, at least, a lot of middle-aged male writers. Like Keith Waterhouse, for example, who expressed his passionate views in a piece for Punch in July that year.

Before we get into that, though, let’s think about 1974.

This was the year of the first publication of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and when membership of the organisation reached around 10,000 people.

Richard Boston’s column in The Guardian was in full swing, having started in the summer of 1973. Ian Nairn’s influential piece, ‘The Best Beers of our Lives’, appeared in the Sunday Times on 30 June 1974.

This was, in other words, a pivotal year.

But Keith Waterhouse was no bandwagon jumper. He’d threaded a commentary on pubs through his 1959 comic novel Billy Liar, suggesting this was something he thought about a lot:

The New House was an enormous drinking barracks that had been built to serve Cherry Row and the streets around it. The New House was not its proper title. According to the floodlit inn-sign stuck on a post in the middle of the empty car park, the pub was called the Who’d A Thought It. There had been a lot of speculation about how this name had come about, but whatever the legend was it had fallen completely flat in Clogiron Lane. Nobody called the pub anything but the New House.

His piece for Punch picks up this thread more than a decade later, on the other side of the invention of the theme pub and the ‘bird’s nest’, and the coming of Watney’s Red.

It opens, as essays about pubs often seem to do, with a reference to George Orwell’s ‘The Moon Under Water’ (now a successful podcast), before providing an update on the imaginary pub’s fortunes since the 1960s:

The Moon was originally owned by Buggins’s Brewery, a family concern so tiny that its entire output could be distributed throughout London by three teams of drayhorses. Buggins sold out to Duggins’s Draught, Duggins in turn merged with Coggins’s Keg, and finally the whole mini-conglomerate was taken over by Consolidated Piss.

This echoes CAMRA’s line of attack against Watney’s et al (their beer was full of chemicals) and gives us a taste of the anti-lager rhetoric to come (it looks like urine). It also reminds us of Bill Tidy’s longrunning ‘Keg Buster’ comic strip for CAMRA and its fictional brewery ‘Crudgington’s’.

It’s also a neat summary of what happened to many small local breweries during the period of post-war consolidation in British brewing.

Next, Waterhouse tells us, Consolidated Piss played its part in the revolutionising of the pub industry as a whole, being “as interested in commercial property, bingo halls, hamburger-dromes and roofing felt as they are in beer”. Each “independent corner pub”, he writes, “became one of a chain of 15,000 ‘outlets’.”

Again, this is an accurate reflection of the language of firms like Bass Charrington and Whitbread in this period, opening everything from shopping malls to motels.

Waterhouse argues that The Moon Under Water took the wrong course at around the time of the Festival of Britain when its then landlord, “Len” decided to give it a facelift: “What the class of people we get in her wants… is more of your modern”:

So down came the ornamental mirrors and the stuffed bull’s head over the nally mantelpiece. The cast-iron fireplaces went to the scrapyard. New plastic tables, which could be wiped over with a cloth for all the world as if they were topped with marble like the ones that had graced the saloon bar for nigh on a century, were installed. And very pretty they were, if a bit rocky…

Len was succeeded by Ken who took things further yet in pursuit of his ambition to “get rid of the public bar trade and start a Sunday morning darts league among the cravat-wearers and ladies in trouser suits”.

Ken’s successor, Ben, installed “a juke box, a fruit machine, a television set, a pin-table, and later an ingenious electronic tennis game costing ten pence a go”.

It’s interesting reading this in 2022 when darts, juke boxes, ploughman’s lunches and, we guess, (non-craft) keg beer, are all considered markers of a pubs down-to-earth ‘properness’. It only takes a generation or so for the new-fangled to harden into tradition.

Through the course of the article, Waterhouse hits all the main notes of CAMRA rhetoric in this period, including that:

  • pubs aren’t about food
  • consumers are being sold worse and weaker keg beer with ever more ludicrous claims of ‘authenticity’
  • the inevitable conclusion is demolition and reconstruction in glass and metal

At the end of the piece, though, he observes, albeit sourly, a turning of the tide:

Nowadays there seems to be a demand for traditional pubs, to compete with the craze for Edwardian wine bars. Their clever young designer knows where he can get his hands on some ornamental mirrors, marble tables, cast-iron fire places and various knick-knacks such as a stuffed bull’s head. He can also get hold of some original Victorian ceiling-moulds and there is a chemical process by which a ceiling can be stained dark yellow as if by tobacco-smoke. But of course all this stuff comes expensive, and it must inevitably be reflected in the price of beer.

And he was right – see chapter 6 of our book 20th Century Pub for more on that trend.

Does anyone know if Waterhouse was a CAMRA member? We’d be a bit surprised if not.

If, like us, you like to gather stray examples of beer writing from newspapers and magazines, it’s well worth hunting down a copy of this particular issue of Punch. Besides Waterhouse’s entertaining article there are various supporting features such as a collection of ‘New Pub Songs’…

The English Pub in Singapore
Is filled with Finns from door to door.
Skol! Gezondheid! Sante! Cheers!
Pleece, you gif me six warm beers.

…and a special spread of (not very funny) cartoons on the subject of pubs and wine bars. This one is the best:

Cartoon: a man stands at the bar in a huge empty pub. The landlord says to his partner: "God, here's another one -- where the hell are they all coming from?"
SOURCE: Ken Taylor/Punch, 3 July 1974.

The cover illustration, by Geoffrey Dickinson, is arguably the most eloquent statement of all.

20th Century Pub pubs

The Chelsea Drugstore – the pub of the future?

In the 1960s, British brewers sometimes behaved as if they didn’t believe the traditional English pub had a future and scrambled to find ways to reinvent the pub for the late 20th century. For Bass Charrington the solution was a glass and metal wonderland in West London, on the King’s Road – The Chelsea Drugstore.

The symbolism feels a bit on the nose, really, but The Chelsea Drugstore replaced a Victorian pub called The White Hart – though a pub of that name was trading on the site at least as early as 1805.

The White Hart c.1900. SOURCE: WorldsEnder/AngloSardo.

The new pub took eight months to put together at a cost of about £180,000 (equivalent to around £3.3 million in 2022), involving a serious roster of swinging sixties talent.

The architects were Patrick Garnett and Anthony Cloughley, who had experience building amusement parks, and Erik Blakemore, who had worked on film sets. Their firm GCB had previously designed kitsch Tiki bars for Butlin’s seaside holiday camps.

Graphic design was handled by Martin Stringer and Tony Guy (AKA Stringer & Guy) and Push Pin Studios of New York City, founded by Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast.

Interior design was by Baron Alessandro Albrizzi who had a trendy furniture shop at 182 Kings Road.

It didn’t stop there – even the staff uniforms had a name designer, Tom Gilbey, who had earlier tailored the capes the Beatles wore on the cover of their 1965 album Help! In particular, he designed minidresses for the barmaids which were to be a major selling point.

CHELSEA DRUGSTORE London's most exciting spectacular' requires a deluge of dollies to cope with the crush in our nosh area restaurant, snack bar and pubs. Please! If you can wait with wit and cope with 'celebrities' (even on a part time basis we don't expect EVERYONE to be brave for ever) then dolly on over and see George Firmage at CHELSEA DRUGSTORE. 49 KING'S ROAD If you don't swing, don't ring.
A job ad from June 1968. SOURCE: The Stage, 27 June 1968, via The British Newspaper Archive.

Despite all that revolutionary talent, the new building wasn’t actually new at all. It was built around the existing pub and even retained the shape of its arched windows, behind a shiny glass and aluminium ground-floor frontage.

The restaurant at The Chelsea Drugstore in 1968. SOURCE: RIBA

What was the Chelsea Drugstore like?

A contemporary description of the impression it made can be found in the Brewing Trade Review for August 1968:

To capture in words the mirror dazzling effect of the place, quite astonishing when first encountered, is not easy. Some floors are of marble, others have specially designed carpeting in aubergine, gold and grey. Counters in the gift shop, the tobacconist’s and so on, are of stainless steel and glass with polished brass and glass panel fronts. The bar and restaurant counter tops are of stainless steel. All the ceilings are of polished aluminium and practically all the lighting spills from floor level, where fixtures have been set within the brass and tinted glass panels. The result is that the movement of people past these fixtures breaks the light beams and causes reflections in the surrounding polished surfaces, so creating a constantly changing light pattern. One cannot be alone, or certainly get the impression of being alone in the Chelsea Drugstore. 

The inspiration for the name of the new pub was said to be Le Drugstore, a shop-bar-cafe in Paris which was, in turn, inspired by late-night venues in New York City.

It’s hard to imagine that someone, somewhere in the Bass Charrington organisation wasn’t also, rather bravely, thinking that the word ‘drugstore’ was a loud, clear signal to London youth about what might be on offer.

Alan Walker of Bass Charrington (right) at the opening of The Chelsea Drugstore, 1968. SOURCE: Brewing Trade Review, August 1968.

In advance of the Drugstore’s opening on 8 July 1968, Bass Charrington’s marketing machine set about building hype, as reported in the Brewing Trade Review:

From the start it was obvious that the Chelsea Drugstore was going to be different. The invitation took the form of a label wrapped round a non-returnable bottle of beer (full). On it, in mauve lettering on a silver background, one read that “Mr. H. Alan Walker, Chairman, Bass Charrington Ltd., takes pleasure in inviting you to the opening of the Chelsea Drugstore, 49 Kings Road, Chelsea, S.W.3.” One’s admission ticket for this Sunday morning occasion? The mauve and silver decorated bottle top.

The hype, and the signalling, worked.

“The day they opened, we were all so damn high we ran around putting handprints all over it until owners had to set up a roadblock to keep stoners off,” Beverley ‘Firdsi’ Gerrish is quoted as saying in a biography of Syd Barrett.

Apart from the visual aspect of the design, the business model was new, too. Bass Charrington needed to recoup its investment and intended to sweat the premises for every penny.

So, as well as selling its beer in two bars, they also sold breakfast, lunch and dinner; records; tobacco; soda; delicatessen products; and, of course, drugs, in a late night pharmacy.

As Jack Amos wrote in the Financial Times for 6 July 1968, in an article called ‘The Changing Face of the English Pub’:

By keeping the shops open when a view the bars are closed the brewery hopes (with good reason) for a better return than could be expected from a normal pub with restricted hours. In addition, the shops will stay open as late as possible within the confines of a 16-hour trading day…

Was the Chelsea Drugstore the future of the pub?

Business was good at first. It sold its first week’s supply of beer in 48 hours, along with twelve designer shirts at six guineas a pop (about £120 each).

It continued to do good business for a year or two and Bass Charrington made noises about expanding the concept.

Other brewers were inspired by The Chelsea Drugstore, too, launching their own youth-focused discotheque pubs, such as the Watney’s Birds Nests.

But the locals didn’t like The Chelsea Drugstore at all. “I think it sounds frightful,” said Miss Iris Medlicott of the Royal Avenue Residents’ Association before it even opened (Chelsea News, 21/06/1968). Once it began trading, there were constant complaints, as summarised in the same newspaper on 5 September 1969:

To anyone who has known and loved the old village for up to almost half a century… this corner rendezvous which has caused so much high blood pressure will never fit in with our King’s Road… without or without its controversial lights, which as someone has wittily put it, “accentuate that our gin palace is a tin palace”.

Others complained that the beer was expensive and the setup gimmicky. The kind of place, in short, that you went once and didn’t bother coming back to.

It’s sometimes described as having become a tourist attraction – or maybe a tourist trap. In 1970, the Lord Mayor of London hosted a lunch there for British teenagers to thank them for their part in attracting visitors to the city. (Kensington Post 10/04/1970.)

Later the same year, it played the part of a teenage hangout of the future in a film, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971.

Alex visits a record shop (The Chelsea Drugstore) in A Clockwork Orange, 1971.

Then Bass Charrington quietly redesigned the pub and relaunched it in September that year. This time, their aim was not to reinvent the traditional pub but to reintroduce it.

This new version of the Drugstore had one modern bar and one kitted out in traditional fashion. At the opening, a mini-skirted model sat on the lap of a Chelsea Pensioner, to signify this union of old and new. (Kensington Post 24/09/1971.)

A compromise.

Always a good sign.

Decline and decay

The problem with any design built around shiny, brand new hipness is that it is doomed to (a) go out of fashion and (b) get tatty.

The typical old-fashioned pub, on the other hand, has the advantage that generally the more worn-in it gets, the better.

Martin Green and Tony White, authors of the wonderful time capsule The Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs, were not impressed at all by what The Chelsea Drugstore had become by 1973:

In transforming what was a decent Victorian pub, the White Hart, into a sterile complex of shops, boutiques, cafes and bars, Bass Charrington demonstrated that when brewers start anticipating what they imagine to be exciting surroundings for people to drink in they can be very wrong. The Chelsea Drugstore has now hived off all the activities extraneous to that of selling food and drink, but it is still probably not taking much more nowadays than the White Hart did of old. In the old days you could sit outside and watch the birds go by or admire the frontage of Thomas Crapper’s shop across the road; now, alas, all is stygian gloom and red plush.

The Chelsea Drugstore lost its mojo altogether within a decade and in a famous photo from 1976 looks as if it might be more at home on the seafront at Blackpool.

A tatty looking Chelsea Drugstore.
The Chelsea Drugstore in 1976. SOURCE: Klaus Hiltscher/Flickr.

By 1984 it was being described as “that awful rambling sixties relic on the King’s Road” (The Stage, 26/07) and in a 1991 song, ‘Did Ya’, The Kinks sang “Now the Chelsea Drugstore needs a fix, it’s in a state of ill repair”.

Today it is a branch of McDonald’s – certainly somewhere you can hang out and get served at all hours of the day, as long as you don’t want a pint of Bass with your Egg & Cheese McMuffin®.

Main image adapted from a photo at The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea photographic archive. To read more about how pubs changed in the 1960s and 70s check out our 2017 book 20th Century Pub.

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London pubs from a woman’s perspective, 1964

A drawing of a pub.
The Kings Head and Eight Bells by John Cooper.

In 1964 Batsford published a guide to London with a twist: it was about where to go and what to do on sleepy Sundays. Such as, for example… visit the pub.

We picked up our copy of London on Sunday at Oxfam in Cotham for £3.99. It’s not a book we’ve ever encountered before, or even heard of.

We haven’t managed to find out much about the author, Betty James, either, except that she wrote a few other books, including London and the Single Girl, published in 1967, and London for Lovers, 1968. She was older than the girlish tone of the book might suggest – in her late forties, we gather – and twice divorced by the time she was profiled in the Newcastle Journal in 1969.

Before the main event, individual pubs crop up here and there – the Grapes in Wapping is accurately described as ‘an old sawdusty river pub’ where the staff give directions to a particularly good but hard-to-find Chinese restaurant.

One of the best lines in the book, thrown away in an itinerary for a walk, is, we’re certain, a dig at male guidebook writers of the period who couldn’t resist rating barmaids:

The Colville Tavern at 72 Kings Road… [has] the best-looking barman in London. Ask for Charles.

Pubs are given real, focused treatment in the dying pages of the book, which is a statement in its own right.

From Monday until Saturday this Sunday is the Local Public House of somebody else in whom once has no interest whatsoever. However… on Sunday at the hour of noon it is entered immediately by the knowledgeable tosspot in order that he may refresh himself in convivial company, while his wife cooks the joint to which he eventually return too late to avoid unpleasantness… Meanwhile, the regular visitor to this Sunday Pub (whose Local Public House it is from Monday until Saturday) will repair to another Sunday Pub because it is considered not schmaltzy to take drink in one’s own Local Public House upon a Sunday.

Inevitably, the first pub to get a write-up is the Grenadier, which we visited earlier this year:

This very old pub is impossible to find. You can wander around the chi-chi little mews surrounding it, absorbing the untraceable emanations of Guards subalterns and debutantes without actually ever seeing anything but a chi-chi little mews… A dread silence occasionally falls upon the place… [because] somebody has mislaid a debutante.

The Kings Head and Eight Bells in Chelsea sounds like fun, with people drinking outside in the embankment gardens on Sunday morning, or blocking the road ‘where they risk being knocked drinkless by other cognoscenti in fast sports job’. It is, Ms. James says, ‘exclusively patronised by absolutely everybody who isn’t anybody’. Sadly, this one seems to be a goner.

A drawing of a pub interior.
The interior of the Square Rigger by John Cooper.

Of course we got really excited at the description of a theme pub, the Square Rigger in the City, near Monument Station:

Fully rigged with seagull cries and the sound of breaking surf there is also an enormous social schism between the Captain’s Cabin and the Mess Decks both 1 and 2… ‘Tween decks there are rope ladders, sails, and yard-arms and that. Together with a lot of beautifully polished brass bar-top.

We see from that it was a notable booze bunker, before its demolition in the 1980s.

Back to those classic mews pubs of west London, the Star in Belgravia, of course, gets a mention, and rather a cheeky one: ‘Well now… The best thing we can say about this pub is that all the aforementioned missing debutantes may be discovered here… recovering… And some of them simply aching for the utter, utter blissikins of getting mislaid again as soon as possible’.

The Windsor Castle in Kensington apparently had ‘Luscious sandwiches’ and quite the scene going on, with actors in the bar and ‘a pig ogling a cow in the pleasant walled garden’.

The last pub tip is given reluctantly:

There is of course one Sunday Pub to which afficionados resort of a Sunday evening. However, it could so easily be completely ruined by hypermetropic invasion that I hardly like to mention it. This is the Lilliput Hall, a Courage’s house at 9 Jamaica Road SE1, where, at around 9 pm, commences the best not-too-far-out jazz this side of paradise. The hundred per cent professional group renderings are led by the guv’nor, Bert Annable, a name to be conjured with in the business, since he’s worked with Cyril Stapleton and Paul Fenoulhet, among others.

Sound like a laugh. Now, it goes without saying, flats, but the records some nice firsthand memories.

We reckon it’d have been quite nice to read an entire book about pubs by Betty James. She seems to have a feel for them, and her archness is amusing.