Friday, 29 August 2008

'Boody' Bars

In 1830, a Beer Act was passed by Parliament, allowing licensed persons to open their houses to the public for the sale of beer and thus the "Public House" was born.
The Act was meant to attract trade away from the notorious "Gin Palaces" which sold noxious spirits which were ruinous to health, often even fatal.
The first Public Houses were often just terraced dwellings and so, to distinguish them from other properties in the row, the owners attempted to decorate them in such a way as to make them stand out. In addition to colourful signs, the front of the house was often clad with bright ceramic tiles and, by late Victorian times, highly decorated and beautiful Public Houses, such as the two I have pictured here, were being purpose built.

When I was a child, growing up in the Irish-influenced town of Jarrow, coloured ceramic tiles were known as "boody" and, consequently, bars decorated with such tiles were referred to as "Boody Bars".
There are very few good examples of these beautiful buildings left now in my area and, belatedly, some have been declared as "listed" buildings to prevent vandalistic owners from "modernising" them.
Too little, too late and, modern architecture being what it is, I doubt if we will ever see such interesting, lovely and ornate structures again.

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