7 Mar 2013


Jenny Matlock
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday

In 1995 my son finished his studies as a professional photographer and  went to London to start to work with a very famous English photographer. At the same time the Eurostar started to run and I could be in London within 3 1/2 h. Today it only takes 2 h from Brussels to London.

At that time I was really very much involved in painting and still went to Art school. I never thought about photographing !

In 1996 I discovered the London Pubs ! They were a paradise for drawing people !

I bought myself a little sketch book and started visiting Pubs in London . I discovered over the years around 60 pubs ! I used to sit down in a corner, ordered a glass of cider, which I loved and draw the people. Nobody bothered me, it was real nice. Besides my drawings I described the Pub, because I had no camera at that time.

17 years ago, the Pubs were quiet different. There were no seats outside and I don't remember that any food was served. But there I may be wrong. People of all social classes went there having a drink or more and it was always a very cheerful and sometimes very animated ambiance, when it came to political or football (soccer) concerning discussions !

When I returned home I did some Pub paintings. Here is one which is still hanging in my kitchen.

Now nearly 18 years later, I was very disappointed when I visited Pubs again. They had changed, lots of them had disappeared because of the anti smoking law. It was a pity ! After the anti smoking law came out and it wasn't allowed to smoke in Pubs anymore, at the beginning they really smelled bad of cold smoke. Hundreds of years sometimes, people had smoked there and this smell was remaining in the wallpaper, decorations etc. Employees still go into their Pubs on Friday nights to have a drink together, that hasn't changed. But lots of Pubs have become restaurants, or just don't exist anymore.

I had never thought that I would be able to find some pictures of some Pubs I had visited for my drawings. Meanwhile I had learned to use Internet and own a computer. I felt quiet nostalgic !

There was this one which dated from 1808, in honor of the Boxeur Tom Cribb born in 1781 ! He was a bare-knuckle boxer. He was so successful that he became world champion and became a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The whole Pub was full of drawings of his boxing matches.

Dating from 1892

dates from 1695

and this one from 1765

I looked into my little drawing book and wrote down all the once I had also visited and I wonder if they are still existing !  The Woodstock, The Marlborough Head, The Swan, near Christal Palace, The Handsell, Le Bonaparte, the Dulwich woodhouse, The Scrumpy Jack, The wild Celt, Kings Arms, Half way to heaven, The white horse, The chardons, the Prince of Wales, and The blue Post,

Because the sad truth is .... "Pub to let" or closing down.

And why ? Because smoking is not allowed anymore. I agree that it is not nice to smoke where people eat, but I absolutely don't agree when people only have a drink together.  After all, those who don't like the smell, just should stay home. There is a part of British traditions which disappear ! A Pub (abbreviation for "Public House"), is  "open to the public", as opposed to a private house, and is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain. After all the history of pubs can be traced back to Roman taverns!

The history of "Pubs" you can read here


MaR said...

Quiet a collection! fantastic drawings, how nice you took notes too, so you can find the places again.

I don't think you can blame the closing of pubs to the new (non)smoking laws only, as pubs are meeting points I see smokers are adjusting to the new regulations and go out to quickly smoke a cigarette.

AND: pubs are getting new clients too~ non-smokers like me (and husband)! I many times avoided night outings because I didn't want to come home to shower and wash my hair.

Cezar and Léia said...

You are so talented, I love your books and your drawers are beautiful.Thanks for add the pictures of these pubs!

Eden House News and views said...

I love going to a pub and not leave smelling like an ashtray.
The reason pubs ate closing is more todo with the Witherspoon chain that are big family friendly food serving non characteristic places that I try to avoid.
One pub in my town has closed is now abike shop with a coffee shop. They have kept the bar and it works really well. Fabnpostmtho

Fun60 said...

I recognise a few of those London pubs Gattina. I for one was delighted with the smoking ban. I hated the smell that lingered for days. The evidence is there showing the effect that passive smoking has on others. I am sure that bar workers are delighted they no longer have to work in such unhealthy places. Pubs have changed but many of them still have the bar which is reserved for drinking and other rooms for eating. They have encouraged a whole new set of clientele myself included.

Maribeth said...

I love Pubs too! So much fun to go down, have a pint or two and some fish and chips!

Mara said...

The first country that stopped smoking in public places was Ireland and there was outrage because so many pubs and restaurants had to close. However, since then a lot have reopened again drawing a different crowd.

I want to go out as much as the next person, but I don't think I have to suffer from smoke from other people.

Naperville Now said...

Sorry to be a crank, but as a former smoker, I am delighted that smoking is banned from public places in Illinois. In time, I'll be the pubs come back just as the bars have here. No shortage of patronage. Love your sketches and painting.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

They look so elegant! I would love to sit and have a drink in any one of them with my friends...

We really don't have anything similar here in Utah...

storybeader said...

great looking buildings. I never knew what the word "pub" stood for. In the States, they don't allow smoking in eating establishments, but if there's a bar (bar room) or separated room for drinking, it's allowed there. {:-D

Anonymous said...

I love those sketches! You are very talented. It was quite a change when they banned smoking here in drinking establishments also.

diane b said...

It must have been fun sitting in cosy pubs sketching and what a great job you did. It was a good idea to see if the pubs still existed. Sad to see many are closed. I , like other commenters, don't believe it is entirely the smoking ban that caused it. There was outrage here at first when smoking was banned but now the hotels and restaurants are as full as ever. I find it great to go into a hotel and not have to inhale other peoples smoke any more. In Oz very few people still smoke. Mostly teenagers and especially young girls.???

Jim said...

I like your pub stuff a lot. I like the British pubs a lot too. (We like all U.K. pubs, Ireland, Scotland, and Isle of Mann--haven't been to Wales.)

Our daughter and her family live in London and we go now to London two or three times a year. Then generally we go off to other parts of Europe while we are there.

Erin said...

I love your drawings! Beautiful!
I live in London and yes there are some great old pubs all over the city. I love their history and atmosphere - especially since the smoking ban came in. I hated coming home smelling of smoke when I'm not even a smoker! I love being able to go out now and not end up passive smoking all night.

soulbrush said...

There are supposed to be 7000 pubs in London!
Love the drawings you did of your visits.
How often do yu come to London these days and is your son still here?

Susan Anderson said...

What fun to see your pencil sketches. I had no idea you had that talent as well as writing.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Gattina, I had a whole collection of pictures and pub names from the short time we spent in London. Loved them. We were there when the smoke ban went into effect...saw first hand how unhappy it made people.

I think now that we know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, the pubs and restaurants and bars over here) are afraid for their employees health (or more likely afraid they'll get sued for causing them to become ill from the effects of smoke). We know now that it is worse than just the bad smell.

Your paintings are just wonderful; you're so talented.

Jenny said...

I'd love to sit at the pubs eating pasties and watching you sketch!

That would be a particularly charming time!

Thank you for linking.