Wednesday 25 June 2008

Boxing fights at Swiss Cottage...

When we were kids, my sister and I always knew when we were close to our relatives cos we had reached Swiss Cottage - either on the bus or in the car. It was for us the landmark that we had reached London.

By nature of the colours, decor, design and signage I always had some sort of image that it had been the early retirement project of a former swiss guard, that a swiss person had one lived there... all good daydream stuff.

The current site of the pub is not quite how many local folk remember it - it was fronted by a grill and pub until the 1960's - now you can sit outside and enjoy the road of the vehicles that circle the giratory system. :-)

The 'cottage' appears to date from about 1804 or 1805 and the pub from the 1840's and was The Swiss Tavern, now Ye Olde Swiss Cottage - it's architecture is pretty amazing especially given the increasingly high rise nature of the local area what with the Swiss Cottage development itself around the Library and Sports Centre and also the residential blocks of the Finchley Road.

It seems it's more mundane and more connected with the pub and musical hall traditions and is in fact named after an opera of the 19th century.

The pub and music tradition is often overlooked and pubs were often drinking holes at which the stars of the stage were discussed and championed - the Lillie Langtree in Kilburn for example (

Former champion boxer Frank Redmond was the landlord of the pub in the 1840's and is attributed with being the first landlord. he was a public figure and used the pub as a venue for running races and outdoor boxing events.

Notable jewish fighter Barney Aaron won £50 when Frank Redmond forfeited their bout in August 1827. Two months later, on October 23, Barney defeated Redmond in 1 hour and 12 minutes, in a bout that went 42 rounds.

The swiss theme was made popular by the opera Le Chalet which was performed in 1834, first in Paris and later in London (but untraced).

The architectural swiss theme certainly had popularity in the victorian era and whilst it stands out now as being slightly eccentric it had currency then:

Swiss Cottage is also one of five underground stations named after nearby pubs...

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