Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Night On The Town

Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry. photograph by Tim Irving
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry by Tim Irving
I spent yesterday night walking the streets of North London looking for good pubs to photograph. I would have loved to illustrate for you the type of pub I'm talking about with a photograph, but I can't because I couldn't find any, they've all disappeared! I'm not joking, it's true. Before I left the UK in 2002 every high street had dozens of traditional pubs some of them had been serving beer for 3 or 4 hundred years - now most of them have closed down. I did a little research and found out that last year the rate of closure was 52 pubs a week throughout Britain.

The main reason they've closed is because of the smoking ban that became law in 2007. At the time of the legislation we were told that "non smokers shouldn't have to suffer passive smoking". The few pubs I did see last night were not exactly heaving with non smokers enjoying clean air - they were empty. The few loyal customers were drinking beer outside, so they could smoke. Some pubs were thoughtful enough (and opportunistic), to provide outdoor heaters.

I find this a great shame not least because pubs were a part of the community and like libraries and churches, need to be preserved. The alternative is that we all cocoon ourselves in front of the PC or TV to smoke and drink in solitude.

The evening wasn't a complete wash out, it inspired me to hunt down and photograph the few old pubs that remain and also to photograph the building you see above, Hornsey Road Baths and Laundry. The original baths were built for the public in 1895.There was a swimming pool and 37 private baths plus a laundry. The baths were badly damaged during the Second World War, but hung on until they finally closed in 1991. Now all that remains of the original building is the facade and the beautiful neon sign, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry. photograph by Tim Irving
That's not my dog!


  1. Nice second photo Tim, what camera did you use ?

  2. A few years ago I read that cafes in France are also closing down at an alarming rate. I'm sorry for your pubs and for French cafes. Really, those sorts of changes bother me too.

    (but I love good neon, and you clicked some awesome neon there)



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