Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Last in, first out?

Boak & Bailey have posted a fascinating gallery of pictures of 1960s Watneys pubs taken from the back of matchboxes. Only one out of the six is still in operation as a pub.

It’s very noticeable how few of these modern pubs that the brewers were so proud of have lasted the course. Even where they survive, they tend to be condemned as irredeemably naff. I wonder whether the wheel will turn and they come back into fashion as inter-wars pubs have done. Or maybe 1960s architecture is something that will forever be consigned to the dustbin of history.

The point is made in the comments that many post-war pubs may initially have had conventional two-bar layouts with plenty of seating, but ended up being turned into single rooms where TV sport dominated.

The thought also occurred to me that pubs built after WW1 have, in the last 20 years, probably suffered a much greater attrition rate than those built before. The classic estate pub is fast becoming an endangered species, and the roadhouse only survives where it has become a Brewer’s Fayre or Hungry Horse.

And you don’t see matchboxes much any more, do you?


  1. I was driving through Kirkby, north of Liverpool, last week. Kirkby consists largely of council (and, presumably, ex-council) houses, and a number of 1950s pubs. They still seemed to be operating, but without exception looked depressing, uninviting places. They tended to have loads of banners advertising Sky sports and special food and drink offers which in excess look rather tacky and obscure any residual character the buildings may have once have had.

  2. CAMRA's Pub heritage Group has long since established that intact inter-wars pubs are much more scarce than those from pre-WWI. There were far fewer of them to start with but the rate of attrition has been quite marked. As for intact post-WW2 pubs they are as rare as hen's teeth. Unusually we have good examples of both locally (Swan with Two Necks, Stockport; Nursery, Heaton Norris; Turnpike, Withington).

  3. The Turnpike is a 1960s interior in an existing pub, though, not a new-build.

    We also recently lost the March Hare in Ashton which I believe had a pretty intact 60s interior.

  4. It's only a box of bricks. Knock 'em down, build summat better.

  5. Are you off to Syria to help ISIS knock down useless old buildings, Cookie?

  6. The Turnpike is an interesting hybrid but I take your point. The March Hare was designed in the late 1950s and opened in 1960 - when I first went there its interior and decorative features were pretty much unchanged from those days. It really did reek of the 1950s and certainly had more about it than the average 60s estate pub.

    Although built in 1977, the Silver Jubilee is an interesting survivor with its lounge / vault layout intact.


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