Thursday, 28 December 2017

Inside Tommy Ducks one day in 1960 ......... reflecting on where all the pictures went

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

I can think of only a few in the collection from Chorlton and have yet to come across many from elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

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.

All three 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.

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 Rhyl 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 brings me back to Tommy Ducks one day in 1960 when Mr H. W. Beaumont took his pictures, none of which I would have come across had I not featured Peter’s painting of the pub sometime before it was demolished in 1993.

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

Painting; Tommy Ducks © 2011 Peter Topping


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  1. All would have been lost when the abrupt end came at 3am on the morning of 13th February 1993 when the bulldozers moved in 3 hours after the preservation order ran out.

  2. The same day Jamie Bulger was murdered as I recall.
    I was also wondering just the other day why there are so few photographs of the interiors of pubs, houses, shops etc from the past.
    Maybe it's because, as you allude to, there was nothing of interest to take a photograph of?