Matthew Steeples visits the Belgravia pub The Plumbers Arms and decries the death of the traditional British boozer
Last Wednesday, I happened to have to meet someone in Lower Belgrave Street, SW1 and since I was early, I thought it appropriate – given the death the previous night of the Dowager Countess of Lucan – to pay my first ever visit to The Plumbers Arms – the very pub where said aristocrat fled after her husband allegedly killed the couple’s nanny on a fateful night in 1974.
Though I expected and anticipated entering a dirty old spit and sawdust joint – you likely know the kind: dirty, dark woodwork, sticky carpets and loos that stink of piss or bleach (or both) – all I actually found was another example of the ‘Tim Martin-ification’ of what was previously considered a great British institution.
Blandly decorated to target tourists with fanny-packs on visits to Buckingham Palace and Primark clad office workers from the soulless office towers of nearby Victoria Street, a space that was no doubt once a lively bar propped up by workmen and a couple of pontificating pub bores instead featured Peroni on tap and a menu that wouldn’t look out of place in KFC. I was disappointed in the extreme, but given that there are only a few proper public houses left in Britain, I probably shouldn’t have been.
With greedy landlords seeking permission to turn such buildings into houses, or, worse still, ‘gastropubs’, boozers are now a thing of the past. Cheap plonk at Tesco and Deliveroo have a lot to answer for also and one is simply left thinking: Where will the nation go to encounter the likes of Alf Garnett and Jack Duckworth?
Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.