Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Seldom seen things

Compiling the list of “pubby” features spurred me on to put together a list of things that were once commonplace in pubs, but which are rarely if ever seen nowadays:
  • Fish tanks
  • Blokes coming round selling cockles and mussels
  • Electric diaphragm pumps
  • Ashtrays
  • Upright pianos
  • Bottles of pale and brown ale
  • People drinking “splits” such as light and bitter
  • Premium kegs such as Double Diamond and Worthington E
  • Carlsberg-style straight sided tankards
  • Babycham and Cherry B
  • Nip bottles of barley wine
  • Wrought-iron “features” dividing different sections*
  • Little bags of “cheese and biscuits” alongside the peanuts
  • Jars of pickled eggs
  • A glass case at the end of the bar containing stale cheese and ham rolls
  • Chicken or scampi in a basket
  • Plain triangular sandwiches made of sliced bread
  • Retired military pub bores (in fact pub bores in general seem to be an endangered species)
  • Outside toilets

  • Customers (hides)
Any further suggestions?

* there’s one of these in the Tiviot in Stockport, which in many respects is like stepping back into the 1950s


  1. Cigarette machines (although I have a feeling they may actually be illegal now).
    Pinball machines.
    Pringle vending machines.
    Pistachio nut dispensers perched on the bar.
    Table football.
    Pool tables (disappointly rare but Bar Billiards is on the rise again, surprisingly).
    Underage drinkers

    Booze, Beats & Bites
    Facebook page

  2. Me. I've not been seen in a pub since the smoking ban (apart from nipping in to buy a pint and nipping outside again).

  3. I once got really bad food poisoning from the cockles and mussels. I haven't been in one for 5 years. Do they still have tables made from sewing machine bases? How about space invader tables? I suspect they may have come back as retro features.

  4. Watney's Red Barrel. Do they still have that on torremolinos?

  5. Watney's Red had gone by the end of the 1970s, I think. When I lived in Surrey in the early 80s the premium keg in Watney's pubs was Ben Truman.

  6. I believe Robinsons have returned the tankard and it is nickable at their "beer shrines" or an outragous £9 on their online shop. The Dizzy glasses look quite nice and I am considering stealing a collection. Is it possible your CAMRA branch inform us via its opening times magazine which pubs have nice glassware?

  7. Oh and to add to the list.

    The Sally army and war cry magazine. Never see them about, used to quite a lot. They seem to be replaced with nutters with buckets for whatever TV charity telethon people have gone to the pub to avoid.

  8. Pie warmer. I saw one still in use last year on the end of the counter in a pub in Rainhill.

  9. I have a very vivid memory from c.1981 of my parents (who were running a pub at the time) coming back from the cash and carry with a big plastic sign saying "Hot Pies Served Here". Last pub where I saw a pie warmer in action was the Plough in Walthamstow a few years ago.

  10. Presumably, Bailey, still containing pies baked in 1981

  11. The Cornubia in Bristol has a fish tank.
    I can think of a couple of pubs around here which have upright pianos.
    There is at least one pub in Bristol which advertises light splits and brown splits although I don't know how many people drink them.
    Virtually every pub does pickled eggs.
    Outside toilets are not unknown in the West Country. I know one in Devon whose bogs are not just outside but on the other side of the street.

  12. Martin, Cambridge10 October 2012 at 20:56

    Dying out fast - Landlords with ties, children in non-dining pubs and imaginative pub food (cf earlier articles).

  13. Still have Light and Bitter drinkers in Swindon. It's the only way you can drink the local beer.
    Two things I've noticed are missing are Bottled Stout and The Henry Winterman Cigar displays.

  14. You can see an old pub interior with a fishtank on my postcards then and now blog here -

  15. The Variety Bar in Glasgows Charing Cross area has a fabulous aquarium.

    The 'fish man' still comes round my local on a Friday selling his wares. Leaves a fair auld reek in his wake, i can tell you! Never used to notice it until the smoking ban... :-)



  16. Change from £3


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