Tak­ing a Walk Pa­trick Barkham

The Oldie - - CONTENTS -

Pre­cious few 19th-cen­tury pubs sur­vive in­tact; the Princess Louise in Lon­don’s High Hol­born has been spot-on sym­pa­thet­i­cally re­vived, in­clud­ing its per­fectly re­stored, grey, mar­bled uri­nals. The Crown Liquor Sa­loon in Belfast, with its wildly won­der­ful dec­o­ra­tion – with ma­hogany and cut-glass booths – has con­tin­u­ously reigned supreme through­out the Trou­bles.

Time, though, is run­ning fright­en­ingly short for all too many of these pre­cious build­ings, which so ro­bustly em­body the ar­chi­tec­tural and so­cial life of Vic­to­rian Bri­tain. Only very re­cently a humdinger of such an es­tab­lish­ment, the Princess Vic­to­ria in Lon­don’s Uxbridge Road, was ‘fully re­stored to its for­mer glory’ with lamentably, in­ac­cu­rately smart and ster­ile re­sults.

Rarest of all the Phil­har­monic’s sur­vivals are the red ‘mar­ble’ uri­nals. The process of mar­bling by the pot­ters was of­ten em­ployed, and al­ways in the same way. The pat­terns were trans­fer-printed on to the bis­cuit (fired but unglazed pot­tery) by ladies in white gloves ply­ing linen pads, and the ware was then passed through a ‘hard­ing-on’ kiln be­fore glaz­ing. These smooth, ‘mar­ble’ beau­ties, pro­duced by Thomas Twyford, could also be or­dered in ‘sage green’, ‘rich brown’ and ‘sil­ver grey’ as well as ‘St Anne’s mar­ble’, which was black with white veins. ‘Rouge Royal’ was the hand­somest of all.

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