Moving swiftly along as ever, let’s return to the Monopoly board (UK edition). This is the only property on the board named for a single building, and that building is, thankfully for our purposes, a pub. Or perhaps rather an “inn”. Though there’s nothing especially precise about any of the terms used for drinking places, it is one of the oldest and represents an establishment that serviced travellers with food and lodgings,1 which the Angel once did.
Figure 88. The Angel Inn (Islington N1), now closed.
Of course, nowadays it’s neither pub nor inn and offers none of those functions: it’s a bank. There’s a plaque commemorating its inclusion on the canonical Monopoly board, but there’s nothing to indicate its former use (aside from the existence next door of a Wetherspoon’s pub, opened in 1998 and opportunistically named The Angel after its predecessor). Before it was a bank, it was a restaurant. It hasn’t been a pub since around 1921, when it was sold by the brewers Truman Hanbury Buxton to Lyons, who promptly reopened it as the Angel Cafe Restaurant.2 Which means it wasn’t even a pub when the Monopoly board was set.
So what’s the reason for its prominence, giving its name as it does not only to a tube station, and by extension an area of London, but also to a (fairly cheap) property on Monopoly?
My first post of 2010 (as many as three posts ago) was focused on the Monopoly board, so now that 2011 has come, perhaps it’s time for the second property along, which is Whitechapel Road, completing the brown set. Of course, rents along this thoroughfare of E1 are more than £60 now, but even having shed its 19th century reputation for criminality (a time when there were prominent slums in the area, and Jack the Ripper was committing his crimes), it’s still a relatively impoverished area. Moreover, where the community had originally comprised Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 17th century onwards (with a new influx of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews in the 19th century), it has since the late-20th century given way to primarily Bangladeshi immigrants, and is now dominated by the smells of the many restaurants and the vibrant colours of the clothing shops and stalls of the street market (which can be found most days along the main part of the road near the Tube station).
Figure 78. The Blind Beggar (Whitechapel E1).
Welcome back! Happy new year 2010! Apologies for the long absence. I thought I’d try starting a series of posts based on the Monopoly Board. (At my current pace, this should take me a few years at least, though some of the locations may not require particularly substantial entries.)
Of all the properties name-checked on the canonical (London) Monopoly board,1 only one of them lies south of the River Thames, and it’s the one that has seen probably the most change over the last three-quarters of a century since that game was created. Of course, the Old Kent Road has always been a major thoroughfare and has changed greatly since it is first recorded, as part of the Roman road Watling Street,2 but the twentieth century in particular has seen a vast amount of post-World War II rebuilding. Vast tracts of it are now taken up by council estates and huge branches of familiar retail chains like Tesco, Toys R Us, PC World, B&Q, Halfords and Asda.
Figure 68. The Lord Nelson (Walworth SE1).
A post a month is a fairly poor work ethic, but putting all those photo links in takes the kind of time I don’t like to give to anything. In any case, I’ve been spending my spare time poring over old maps,1 specifically looking for where the pubs were. I’m making a database: I actually like to do that kind of thing. But that’s enough about my obsessions; perhaps the historical angle will find its way into future posts.2
My interest in cities (living in them, walking around them, reading about them) has always gone alongside an interest in transport: the bigger the city, the more ways to get around it there are. Railways have always been one of the more romantic modes of transport, and if this adjective doesn’t always seem to apply to, say, the 0758 London Overground service from Homerton on a rainy Monday morning,3 it nevertheless has captured a wide variety of bloggers and Internet obsessives. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell apart the real ale lover from the train enthusiast, so it is perhaps no surprise there’s always a pub near a railway station.
Of course, they’re not always necessarily good pubs. Continue reading
It’s surprising how much of the history of London is effectively hidden, even when it’s out in public. Perhaps, strangely, it’s never more hidden than when it’s surrounded by housing. There is very little remaining in the residential area of (Lower) Holloway between Caledonian Road and York Way that gives much indication of its former usage during the late-19th and early years of the 20th century. For it was here, on an area once known as Copenhagen Fields, that the Metropolitan Cattle Market was based for half a century from 1855 after moving from Smithfield.1 Even when the livestock had moved elsewhere, the Caledonian Market continued in its place until the First World War, when its largely antiques-based trade moved to Bermondsey.
Figure 22. The Lamb (Holloway N7), now closed.
The pub environment has long been linked with entertainment. The modern term “karaoke”, for example, masks a long history of singing in the pub, stretching back into the last century and possibly earlier (and deserving of its own post at a later date). Bar games have also long been popular, and many pubs have teams which compete in local sports competitions.
However, the rise of pub theatres is a relatively recent phenomenon. Of course, pubs have long served theatre patrons. The Shakespeare’s Head (Finsbury EC1, fig. 13) has already been mentioned (in the context of estate pubs, though it replaced an earlier pub on the same site), which serves the nearby Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and as such a bell is rung before the start of the performance and at the end of the interval. The Harlequin (Finsbury EC1), nearby, is similar, and throughout the West End such pubs can be found (although not all are quite so helpful to their patrons as the Shakespeare’s Head in this respect).
Figure 13. The Shakespeare’s Head (Finsbury EC1).
This post is a bit speculative, but it concerns the place of class as it relates to the local pub. There are, I suppose, a few issues at work here. One of course is the concept of class in British society: it has developed and been refined over time. It was the Industrial Revolution which, by freeing up leisure time, brought about the rise of a middle class: aspirational, acquisitive, and pursuing the office-based professions. The other issue is the place of the pub vis-a-vis the world of the working man and woman. It’s a big topic, so apologies if I rather misrepresent anything or am overly facile in my analysis of trends. I welcome input.