The Pubs of Putney
London lost 500 pubs last year. Across the country boozers are closing at the rate of 30 a week. With the rise of fast and slow food, coffee shops and the rest something had to give. 40 years when I first came to Putney there were at most four restaurants, now there are over fifty. Nine or ten coffee shops have also established themselves. But our pubs have held up well. We have lost the White Lion,The Quill,the Cyclists Rest,the Northumberland Arms and the Castle,but gained through development of the river front The Boathouse and The Rocket.
While some gastro pubs such as the Arab Boy,Spencer,Dukes and the Queen Adelaide have flourished , others sticking to beer such as the Cats Back and the Bricklayers have struggled. Some such as the Fox and Coat and Badge do well out of sporting events ,the Half Moon as an entertainment venue still pulls them in. Weatherspoons Railway and Rocket pubs do well on their pricing. over One reason for success of Putney pubs is that the town has become a centre for the recreational, leisure and night economy.
In terms of development its interesting to note that the lost pubs have become an art gallery, a supermarket, a row of town houses,a furniture shop and one is still empty with plans to turn it into a hotel.
Hilaire Belloc warned 1912 “When you have lost your inns, drown yourselves, for you will have lost the last of England.” As always Belloc is on the money and over the top. In Febuary 1946 George Orwell wrote his famous essay Moon under Water about what made his perfect pub. How dated it is. His must have seven points are
Comfortable and ugly Victorian architecture. Most successful pubs now have a much lighter brighter feel which reflects the less guilt and class ridden, less exclusivelly male environment.
Good fire. The only pub I know in Putney with an open fire ,the Bricklayers is in real jeopardy. But Orwell was writing before central heating.
Games only in the public bar. Games(darts, crib, skittles) have all but died out in pubs.
No radio or piano. Few pubs today exist without a TV
Middleaged bar maids who know their customers names. The staff in London pubs is usually young ,often foreign and always changing. Here again in Putney the Bricklayers is the exception.
Must sell tobacco as well as cigarettes. Orwell whose smoking killed him would have been shocked at the modern status of smoking especially in pubs.
Good solid meals for three shillings(15p). Except for the multiple of 70(£11) in the price here at least Orwell would have been happy in a modern pub.