I discover that there are entire websites and campaigns waged over them, but the bottom line is that they are a hang-over (LOL) from when pubs were more key as community venues.
Now in a rural setting pubs are absolutely fundamental to a community - now in urban settings they are much more the local - and looking round in NW3 and NW6 I'm struck by the extent to which they reflect back the local communities in which they sit...
Of course part of this is the preservation of the old British boozer and whilst I'm no defender of dark and seedy joints the smoking ban has given an amazing rennaisance to
a) families in pubs and
b) street conversation - although the winter months makes the latter a much more chilly sport!
Some of the pubs signs reflect a much more significant local connection such as the Lillie Langtry (http://474towin.blogspot.com/2008/08/down-with-nations-princess-up-with.html) while others just reflect the rality of the development of the local area - The North London Tavern and the arrival of railways in Kilburn.
Now, there was quite a lot of internet hooha when the Sir Colin Campbell has taken down the pub sign and not replaced it - with all sorts of motives for that being mooted.
And now the Lillie Langtry is at risk with the pub being re-named The Cricketers.
I've picked out here a range of pubs that I have recently passed and their signs:
- The Duke of Hamilton, The Flask and The White Bear (all in NW3 Hampstead)
- Ye Olde Swiss Cottage and The Old Bull and Bush
- North London Tavern and The Lillie Langtry