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Saloon Bar Sign, Black Friar, London
The Black Friar in Queen Victoria Street, London is one of my favourite pubs. Back in days long gone by, I used to take groups of overseas visitors there as part of a tour of old London pubs. It is not only a fine pub, it is a work of art – tiled throughout in the style of the arts and crafts movement. Outside, there are delightful signs pointing you to the various bars. If you ever find yourself in London, visit it – you will not be disappointed.
I would guess that this little Carte de Visite from the studio of W H Martin of Prestwich, Lancashire is Edwardian rather than Victorian. I know nothing about the subject of the photograph other than he seems a bright young fellow with a rather distinctive horseshoe pattern necktie. I don’t know much more about W H Martin, other than I suspect it was William H Martin who was born in Prestwich in 1878. In a description of nineteenth and twentieth century Prestwich published by Bury Metropolitan Council, Martin’s photographic studios are described as follows:
“The studio on the corner of Hacking Street and advertised as “Artist and Military Photographer … under the distinguished Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales”
The part about royal patronage sounds very grand, but every small town photographer in the land was claiming similar associations around the turn of the century. With the best will in the world, I cannot see the King and the Prince of Wales getting a tram up to Prestwich in order to have their likeness captured by Willie Martin.
So typical of the English – they sail all the way to exotic European capitals and the first thing they do is to look for a typical English parish church. Our 1925 visitors to the northern capitals found St Albans Church in Copenhagen – they might as well have stayed in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
I was in Manchester last week with a group of friends – the famous Old Gits Luncheon Club – and we were walking along the Rochdale Canal en-route to a splendid public house called The Briton’s Protection, when I spotted two buildings, separated by a few hundred yards and a few hundred years in economic history. My first reaction was to praise the old and condemn the new, but on mature old git reflection I shall admire both. Manchester has changed, but the new Manchester is just as vibrant, striking and picturesque as the old; and with a shiny glass surface.
The Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, London (1987)
I have just realised that I have got to number eight in this ten part series on pubs and all I have shown is buildings. Buildings in themselves – whatever their architectural merit, however much their timbers have absorbed centuries of malt and hops – are not pubs. Pubs need people – drinking, talking, laughing, enjoying life. I took this photograph in the 1980s whilst on a trip to London with a group of trade union students from Doncaster. I can still feel the glow of their friendship thirty years later.
This particular picture is captioned “The Castle at Elsinore from Marienlyst” and if you direct your attention to the left of the photograph there is a castle which I assume is the castle in question. It is, however, also a photo of what looks like the kipper factory at Elsinore, and, towards the right of the photo, is a catching little detail of a group sat on a wooden jetty.
So here we are: page 4 of the Northern Capitals album and we are still in Marienlyst just having had a very pleasant lunch at the hotel, What better time to take a group photograph – and what a group it is.
Anchor Inn, Brighouse (c1970)
There has been a pub next to the Anchor Bridge over the Calder and Hebble Navigation in Brighouse ever since the canal was constructed in the 1750s. For most of that time, the pub was quite reasonably called the Anchor Inn, but for some reason it was decided that it needed a new name for the twenty-first century and it was rechristened The Bridge. The current building dates back just over one hundred years and is the third on the site : the original 1750s pub was rebuilt first of all in 1859. The Anchor has a long association with music : in the early years of the twentieth century the police tried to close it down because it was guilty of “habitually employing professional female musicians“. I remember the pub best in the 1970s when Rod Marshall was the Landlord. He was a gifted jazz musician himself and succeeded in attracting a host of local – and in some cases – international jazz musicians to play at the pub. And, if the police would care to take note, I recall that a number of them were women!
Saddle Hotel, Market Street / Russel Street, Halifax (1965)
Hidden behind the undoubted delights of the Mixenden Gala Queen on the back of a lorry, is the undoubted splendour of the Saddle Hotel. When I took this photo in 1965 it was an integral part of Halifax Borough Market, but a year later it closed down, and shortly after that it was pulled down. It was replaced by the concrete monstrosity that still sits there, like a wart on the fair face of the Borough Market.