Sunday, 11 October 2015

So why can't I find pictures of the inside of the Swiss Tavern?

Now one of the things that continues to puzzle me is the absence of pictures of the inside of pubs.

I suppose the grand professional photographers never saw it as a suitable subject while everyone else was too busy enjoying themselves to bother.

Of course tucked away in cupboards and family albums there will be a shedful of snaps recording birthdays, nights out and romantic moments but for obvious reasons these rarely get entered in to the archives.

There are exceptions.

I have some fine pictures by Bill Brandt of London pubs in the 1940s and Humphrey Spender’s Bolton pictures from a decade earlier but there must be loads more.

But so far none of where I grew up.

Now in the case of Lausanne Road that is not surprising as I was only 14 when we left for Eltham, and even though this was where I came of age I never took any of the inside of the pubs I visited and haven’t found any.

All of which just leaves the appeal for pub pictures and perhaps even some stories.

In the meantime here are some from Tommy Ducks, famous for what was displayed on the ceiling along with its coffins and the fact that it was demolished one night in 1993 between the time the preservation order ran out and a new one could be issued.

Back then it was a pub with little in the way of frills.

It served beer, offered companionship and like all pubs of the time, opened at 11, closed at 3 and reopened in the evening till 10.30 with an extension of just half an hour on Fridays and Saturdays.

And woe betide any landlord who infringed those licensing hours because they remained one of the reasons why they could lose their pub.

For most of us back then those time slots pretty much suited our lives.  During the week you were at work and while you might slip in for a pint at dinner time it was usually just the one.

Nor could most of us afford going down the pub every evening and even if you did 10.30 was a sensible time to be turfed out if you had to be at work for 8 in the morning.

And I have to say after a couple of hours I had had enough.  We always went down for the last hour, doubled up at last orders and went away satisfied.

That said it would only be in the morning when you smelt what you had worn the night before that the enormity of what you had inhaled from cigarette smoke really hit home.

Nor did it matter whether it was the vault or the saloon they were full of the stuff.

I can still remember the odd late afternoon in a city centre pub watching the sunlight mingle with the smoke and catching sight of the yellowing ceiling and paintwork which had once been white but was now a darkening yellow.

Added to which if you touched the woodwork it had a slightly sticky feel which clung to your fingers.

Not that I was over bothered back then by such things because  that was just how it was.

In the same way the decor of most pubs I visited was pretty basic.  You might get the odd framed picture which unlike now didn’t trade on nostalgic Manchester.

Instead there would be the tired painting of an elk which competed with an equally faded photograph of a pub day out to Brighton and a dozen or so  posters for the breweries best bitter along with a hand written notice of the next four darts fixtures.

All of which made this discovery of these three both a bit of a find and an introduction into a world of pubs which we have pretty much lost.

They date from 1960 and were taken in Tommy Ducks on East Street, and come from a time long before the coffins or the display on the ceiling.

Pictures; inside Tommy Ducks, 1960, H W Beaumont, m50721, m50272, and m502775, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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