Context 165 - August 2020

28 C O N T E X T 1 6 5 : A U G U S T 2 0 2 0 The changing barscape The counter and its shelved back fitting form the heart of the pub, just as they did back in 1960 and long before that. However, the 2020 manifestation is in various ways very different from that of 1960. There has been a huge pro- liferation of drink offerings and bar-back fittings are now crammed, while fridges have become an essential part of the servery equipment. The desire for drink-specific glasses and the need to supply a new glass even for repeat orders has led to the rise of the pot-shelf or bar-mounted gantry to house this vast increase in glassware. The counter was a much more open affair in 1960 and the arrival of the often tasteless pot- shelf has made many a servery a less attractive centrepiece in the pub. The counter has also become colonised as never before with often ugly promotional display. Tall dispense founts for lagers and speciality beers are on a scale unknown in 1960. At their Geoff Brandwood, a member of the Campaign for Real Ale’s Heritage Pub Group, has written widely about historic pub interiors. He is the author of Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs: pub interiors of outstanding historic interest (2016), £9.99 at https:// index.php/product- category/books Superstructures on and above bar counters to accommodate glasses have proliferated since the 1960s. This aggressive example is at the Ship Inn, West Itchenor, West Sussex (Photo: Michael Schouten) Pump clips form prominent features of today’s barscape. These, two of the earliest, date from the 1930s, when they were introduced to advertise national brands (Photos: Roger Corbett) most extreme they look as though they are a defensive palisade between customers and the bar staff. Another, transformation has been the arrival of the pump clip. On the face of it this may seem a trivial feature, but they can present a significant visual array. Today’s astonishing choice of beers – from more UK breweries than have existed for well over a century – make pump clips an essential information tool. They first appeared in the early/mid 1930s to promote national brands such as Guinness, Bass and Worthington. Their first documented existence is in late 1933 from Guinness, a company which made extensive and powerful use of advertising. They remained fairly rare, however, and even in views of pub interiors in the 1950s and early 1960s they are usually absent. This article is written during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, with all pubs having been closed since 20 March. Some will not reopen but it is hoped most will. They will do so with subtle and some not-so-subtle changes when compared with their 1960 predecessors. That is all part of keeping the pub vibrant and relevant. One thing is for sure: today’s pub-going Rip Van Winkle will find his 2080 pub different from that of today.This writer will not be there to find out how, but some of our youngest readers will. We can hope they will be enjoying their surround- ings and spending their pension money on a great pint in a great pub.