Esoteric London

No. 647: Broadwick Street, W1

Posted in Parks, Pubs by esotericlondon on August 21, 2012

Broadwick Street, London, W1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

London Characters and the Humorous Side of London Life – William Schwenck Gilbert/Henry Mayhew, c. 1870:

It is not at all pleasing that the habit of smoking has crept into Rotten Row. The excuse is that the Prince smokes. But because one person of an exceptional and unique position, doubtless under exceptional circumstances, smokes, that is no reason why the mass should follow the example. Things have indeed changed within the last few years; the race is degenerating into politeness. In the best of his stories, ‘My Novel,’ Lord Lytton makes Harley, his hero, jeer at English liberty; and he says: ‘I no more dare smoke this cigar in the Park at half-past six, when all the world is abroad, than I dare pick my Lord Chancellor’s pocket, or hit the Archbishop of Canterbury a thump on the nose.’ Lord Hatherley’s pocket is still safe, and we are not yet come to days, though we seem to be nearing them, when a man in a crowd may send a blow into a prelate’s face. We have had such days before, and we may have them again. But smoking is now common enough, and ought to be abated as a nuisance.

The notice fixed to the window of the John Snow public house:

CUSTOMERS

PLEASE REMAIN BEHIND THE

WHITE LINE/BARRIERS

PROVIDED

DO NOT BLOCK THE PAVEMENT

OR STAND ON THE ROAD

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION

[ A smoking ban in England, making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places, came into force on 1st July 2007. Demarcation lines outside pubs have now become commonplace as the smoking customers now have to use the pavement as an annex to the bar, come rain or shine, sharing the space with passersby. Parks meanwhile have remained a smokers haven. R.D.]

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