Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pub Signs Taken for Wonders

by the Landless Landlord
I was just thinking. All over London there must be great pub signs going barely noticed, like this one I chanced on in an empty street. This was back when I had a job, and I was out in the van to pick up some barrels from a brewery too micro to deliver, got a bit lost. An interesting take on the name, visually striking but clear, amusing, detailed, and speaking volumes (measures imperial) about the life within. This sign alone was worth a whole bevy of lesser pubs entire, a glorious work of art bestowed on a bypassed little street which I'd only hit by a misdirection on my GPS. The Crown, Burnt Ash Hill, London SE 12.

Then, a little later, on the way back, this:

This one's now called 'The New Tiger's Head'. The Fancyapint? website has this to say of it: All boarded up and forlorn, the New Tiger's Head is well and truly shut. If it comes back from the dead, we'll let you know.  The present one may be boarded up and dead, but the old sign, if caged, is fiercely alive, a beautiful piece of brickwork justifiably furious at the neglect. So, not caring much where this urban game hunt might one day take me, I snapped the prize and continued blithely on my way, loading it onto my computer at some point and forgetting it. No time back then to organise. New Tiger's Head, Lee High Road SE3. 
Then I came upon an article in the Guardian to the effect that the pub sign was, of course, in massive decline, the Royal Institute of British Architects, among others, trying to compile an online archive. The article's a good place to start on the present situation and for a potted history. 
At the time, reading the article, I felt both very proud and a little guilty - proud of the industry I was a part of, a little guilty as to the meanness of my own contribution to the signs. At some point in my landlordly past I was sort of married, and the wife, as she was in all but ceremony and documentation - certainly in long-declared intention, she was, in any case - the wife, as I'll continue to say, used to go on at me - in the most positive sense, and quite rightly, about how, yes, we ran a great ship, delivering great beers, well kept, to happy customers in a clean, homely, and friendly environment, but a ship, nevertheless, with a pale, balding, miserable flag, giving woefully misleading signals to the passing stricken soul that might need our friendly guidance into port.
Hence, years later, the snaps - a last ditch attempt to patch up the outside in the hope of repairing the sinking in-.

1 comment:

  1. well, i am surprised to read that you are using a GPS.
    'c'est pas du jeu', as the frech says !