Saturday, 6 August 2011

Phoenix - fifties pub

Moving on from the 1930's pub, here's a 1950's pub.

"From out of the past rose


THE "Phoenix" is the third house to be built by the Company in Harlow new town, its licence was transferred on June 20th, 1957, from the "Old King's Head," Potter Street, which has now been demolished.

In common with other licensed premises in the new town the house is named after a moth.

In designing the new house the Company's Architects Department have, both from a planning and aesthetic approach, attempted to create a building truly representative of its environment. It is situated in the Tye Green neighbourhood centre, which houses young people, many of whom have closely followed the development of their local from a hole in the ground to the finished building.

Accent is on light, colour and space, yet still retaining the intimate qualities found in the Old English Inn.

The House consists of Public and Saloon Bar. Club Room and Off Licence. There are ample facilities for darts and the whole decor is bright and cheerful. Indoor plants have their place in the Saloon Bar where exotic varieties festoon the beech rod screens.

The bottle beer store is at ground-floor level which, by trolly feed system, allows for the easy replenishment of the display cabinets in both bars.

A completely self-contained flat with private entrance has been provided on the first floor for our tenant. Mr. W. J. Liddiard. The "Phoenix " is the third licence held by Mr. Liddiard, who in June this year celebrates 25 years with the Company. In 1933 he became landlord of the "Golden Lion." Lower Edmonton. but it was not until 1957 that he took over the "King's Head." Potter Street. Harlow, which closed for trading later that same year, the licence being transferred to the new "Phoenix."

We wish Mr. and Mrs. Liddiard and their son and daughter-in-law, all of whom take a very active part in the management of the "Phoenix," every success in their new house.

Looking out through the twenty foot window on the front elevation, the view is of the newly completed sports fields and beyond the rolling Essex Hills.

French casements lead out on to a sun terrace and beer garden at the rear of the premises; here, beneath a white pergola and coloured lights, are arranged sun brollies when our climatic conditions allow.

Partitioned oft with mahogany folding floors is the clubroom, which also serves as a useful annexe to the saloon bar.

The off-licence is brightly decorated and contains ample shelving for display and storage of the Company's products. The main display window brilliantly illuminated by concealed fluorescent lighting will not easily be missed at night.
"Courage and Barclay Journal Vol.1, No.3 March 1958", pages 18 - 19.
Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Unless you look at the photos. "retaining the intimate qualities found in the Old English Inn" yeah, right.

See? All the initmacy of an aircraft hangar. And what a rubbish use of space. See how few tables there are? Not very sturdy looking tables, either. One nudge and you drinks would be all over the lino. Far less practical than a good old cast-iron table.

But, jokes about crap 1950's styling aside, the pub retains a very traditional layout. One surprisingly similar to that of pre-war Bolton pubs. Take a look:

There are still three rooms: public bar, saloon bar and club room. And a central bar area serving both main rooms. In general, pretty similar to this:

Vault = public bar, lounge = saloon bar, taproom = club room.

Did you see the O.L. on the Phoenix plans? That's an off licence, with its own separate door, but still served from the same central bar area. That's a feature of pubs built between the 1920's and 1960's. Before the supermarkets destroyed the off sales of pubs.

I drank in several pubs similar to the Phoenix. Ones built in the 1950's and 1960's. Charmless, but practical. The Cardinal's Hat (a Home pub in Newark), The Fullbeck (an identical Home pub in Mablethorpe), the Turk's Head in Balderton (now a vets).

It's a fascinating - and neglected - period of pub design. Pubs that retained a traditional arrangement, but built in a modern idiom. It's one of the last great burts of pub building. But one that's well hidden. Because these pubs, like the Phoenix, tended to be stuck in the middle of new council estates. Not the sort of place the casual visitor is likely to be wandering around.

I'll leave you with the Cardinal's Hat. The pub with the youngest beer drinker I've seen. The lad couldn't have been more than 11. At least his dad had bought him a full pint.


Matt said...

I must admit I like 1950's multiroom estate pubs, probably because I did a lot of my teenage drinking in one.

Sadly, the North Manchester brewery who own it have turned the snug into a restaurant, made the lounge posher and bumped up the prices to match.

Martyn Cornell said...

I grew up in Stevenage New Town, where every estate, just like Harlow, had one of these soul-less open-plan 1950s or 1960s pubs in: even 30 or 40 years after they were built, they had developed no character whatsoever. Fortunately the Old Town was full of excellent boozers, since Stevenage had been on the Great North Road and was one of the stops for stage coaches heading north.

beer guru, jr. said...

we in the states have our share of dumpy postwar "taprooms" as well. usually located in the nearer suburbs to a city like chicago, these places followed their clientele as they moved along commuter rail lines, away from the city and it's attendent "problems".
generally set along busy thoroughfares in small brick 25'x75' spaces in mixed use commercial buildings, often near suburban railway commuter stations, these were the "first stop" men in hats often made, on the way home after exiting the train in the evening. often equipped with an off-license in front, one would scoot through the OL, past the double doors and into the back, where a bar with stools was off to one side, and perhaps a few tables and a dartboard or pinball machine off to the other.
today, these places, the ones remaining anyway, are "old man's bars", or ethnic drinking places, depending on demographics.

scissorkicks said...

Cor, The Phoenix is in the town where I lived from age 5 to 33. I only ever drank in there once. It's a ruddy terrifying place. Like so much of Harlow, I'm sure there was a utopian dream behind it when it was constructed - but oh my it went very, very wrong.

Anonymous said...

Many pubs like that adorn the area I grew up in - east Gateshead and the council estates thereof. Most retain their little off-sales bit, which is a nice touch and a piece of recent history. All rather scary now, though.