Sunday, 29 January 2012

New Market Bar Falkirk

A photo-inspired piece this time. Just some thoughts that struck me after rolling my eyes over a picture of a Falkirk pub.

The pub in question was an Aitken's house. I don't know if they actually owned it or not. As it was directly opposite the brewery, it's not impossible.

Here's the photo:

My guess would be that it dates from the 1920s or 1930s. That's based on two things: the way the draymen are dressed and the amount of bottled beer.

But what does this photo tell us? Several things. For a start that Aitken still had horse-drawn drays between the wars. Not particularly unusual for the period. Especially for local deliveries. As I said, this pub was directly opposite the brewery. Hang on. I'll show you.

1. marks the New Market Bar and 2. the new Aitken brewery. I'm not sure why they bothered with the dray. They could have just rolled the barrels over the street.

Lint Riggs, the street running down the pub's side looks like it was completely remodelled around 1900, with new buildings down both sides of its entire length. I assume the New Market Bar replaced the Market Inn which had stood at the other end of the street. You can see it on the map above.

Returning to my subject, what's odd about that dray? How few barrels there are on it. Most of the space is taken up with crates. It looks as if just a single barrel (and it is a 36-gallon barrel) is being delivered. That's the one next to the sack at the back of the dray. The other barrel looks like an empty, but I could be wrong. That implies that the pub didn't have a great range of draught beer. I can only see four barrels in total. At this time a London pub would have sold four or five different draught beers. My guess is the the New Market probably sold one or two.

That would make Falkirk more similar to Bolton than London in the beer range typically supplied. Many Bolton pubs sold either just Mild and Best Mild or Mild and Bitter. Which I suppose isn't surprising. Both were provincial industrial towns.

The building is still there (albeit with plants growing out of the masonry), but the Market Bar is no more. It's now called the Goose and looks rather like a Wetherspoons from the outside..

Loads more Aitken fun to come.


Anonymous said...

Shipstones again-they kept their Shire horses for many years after the war and actually used them for deliveries rather than just window dressing.I live about 6 miles out of Nottingham and occasionally saw the horses in my village, maybe as late as the 60s.

Rod said...

"I'm not sure why they bothered with the dray. They could have just rolled the barrels over the street."

I think it's a posed picture - it may well be that they often did just send a lad over the road with a few crates on a sack barrow, or just rolled a barrel across.

Ganter in Feiburg still deliver to their customers in the Altstadt by horse-drawn dray, a practice that was described to me by the traditional pisshead drayman as "die beste Verbung fuer's Bier".
Well, he would defend the practice wouldn't he - half a litre of Helles in every pub he delivers to...

BryanB said...

I'm with Rod - it's got to be posed. Why else would the barrel and crate have apparently been offloaded onto the street side of the dray, rather than the kerbside? And there's the clean aprons, and the generally shiny clean nature of it all. Oh - and the fact that, as you say, the bar's not far enough away to need a dray...

Sadly, if it's posed I'm not sure you can infer too much from what's being "delivered".

Gary Gillman said...

Interesting how some of these traditions are pan-European (speaking here of draymen supping at the delivery points): one of the Temperance sources I found when looking at Victorian coaching practices complained of coachmen doing the same thing.

There are lots of bottles on the dray, it shows that bottled beer in this period (but I suspect since the early 1800's) had a healthy sale at licensed establishments in this city.


Ron Pattinson said...

I'd wondered if it had been posed. What struck me was that it must have started raining while they were setting it up. The road is wet apart from under the dray and the horse.

Martyn Cornell said...

Love the dog pissing on the pub wall in the modern pic!

Ron Pattinson said...

Martyn, nice little touch, that.

Anonymous said...

Probably wet to darken the road, increase contrast and improve the photo, a trick still used today.

Another hint that it was posed

A Wils said...

Head left then first right, then second left into Manor street, half way along and You are outside 'Aitkens Bar'