Friday 18 July 2014

The red and the grey

Many years ago, I attended a work-related course in Cambridge. One night, we attendees went out to see a film and afterwards adjourned to a nearby pub for a swift pint. I distinctly recall one of the company walking in and saying “this is one of those red pubs, isn’t it?” At the time, this was a very recognisable theme of pub interior design, with red dralon benches, thick carpet and subdued lighting. If the pubs of old had been “wooden wombs” this, if anything, was even more womb-like.

It wasn’t too long before it fell out of fashion and the bare-boards alehouse style became popular again. The more recent trend, though, is to ditch the unadorned wood colour scheme in favour of painting exposed surfaces in white and pale greys, blues and greens. Originally a feature of self-consciously trendy bars, this has now spread to what you would regard as ordinary mainstream pubs. Only recently I was in a nice little village pub where the front of the bar, instead of being polished wood, had been painted a matt pale grey. It was offputting and just didn’t seem to suit the place.

I can’t help thinking that this kind of colour scheme comes across as cold and harsh and a long way from the feeling of being “at home” that you hope to find in a pub. For whatever reason, there seems to be a marked aversion nowadays to making pubs feel warm, cosy, comfortable and welcoming.


  1. Bring back spitoons. We have to stop this poncy gentrification. Take the scatter cushions out to smoking yard and burn 'em, I say.

    Though last time I was getting rat arsed around your neck of the woods, Mudge, the overriding theme to the style of seating was rips & gaffer tape with the odd fag burn hole. Quite rough, round Mudgieville. Sticky tables and the soles of your shoes sticking to the floor.

    That picture looks a bit posh to me.

  2. "Red pubs" were posh in their day, Cookie.

    And where is this dingy pit round my neck of the woods? I must get myself round there...

  3. 'Ere.

  4. They often do away with fixed seating too, and replace it with chairs.

    I like woodwork and I like fixed seating

  5. @Cookie - I would describe "my neck of the woods" as the Heatons rather than central Stockport. Although I don't think either Sam's pub features gaffer tape and fag burns.

    @Bucko - couldn't agree more!

  6. Proper woodwork: yes
    Fixed seating: yes
    Warm, cosy, comfortable: definitely

    My local ticks all these boxes although it must be said the upholstery is green not red.

  7. @Bill, the boozers round Mudgies way find red to be better with the regular splash of blood.

  8. With 40 pubs gone Ashton u Lyne
    still has a reasonable selection of venues with varying decor,some
    traditional,some a touch avant.
    Sadly the remaining pubs have attracted the low life from the closed dives who now mix with the
    existing stock of mutants,loners,
    froth fanciers and friendless gargoyles,cadgers and nose pickers.Throw in a few Labour Luvvies and even an evening in
    the Wetherspoons Necropolis has some appeal

  9. Not one of Anon's best but I love the term "Wetheerspoons Necropolis".

  10. 40 pubs gone in Ashton, wow that is alot, when will it stop? once Wetherspoons have the market?


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