Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Swan but not forgotten

Round the corner from me, there is - or rather there was - a pub that looked like this:


It only ever had a couple of people propping up the bar of an evening, so it was sad but inevitable that it closed and was up for sale, to be bought by developers and turned into this:


This was all a month or two ago; only a few weeks ago I looked up when passing and noted the silhouette on the front, and grinned broadly:


It's a local literary reference, and worth explaining.

Writer Robert Rankin, once of this parish (I have a picture of him somewhere playing my mandolin banjo at a gig, but that's another story) wrote a selection of books known as the Brentford Trilogy. In that great tradition of trilogies, there were nine at last count.

Inevitably (for Brentford), most of the action happens in the pub - the Flying Swan. The Bricklayers Arms is one of the pubs thought to be a model for the said hostelry, although the geography doesn't always work (why would anyone go down Mafeking Avenue to get anywhere), and other pubs are available...

So despite the demise of the building as a public house and now being three small houses (and hopefully much loved homes), someone - the owner of the middle house, or the developer, or whoever - has paid their own little tribute, in their own way. As I say, it made me smile.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

May I prod a hornet's nest here by mentioning that The Flying Swan may have referred to The Magpie? Just a rumour I read ....
(Fight! Fight! Fight!)

C x

Simon said...

eveidence for the defence:

http://www.sproutlore.com/events/brentford.php

for the prosecution:

http://www.freewebs.com/magpieandcrown/theflyingswan.htm

then then there's this just to muddy - or possibly even clear - the water:

http://www.sfx.co.uk/sfx-forum/showthread.php?p=836878

'"The Magpie & Crown" in Brentford is the real "Flying Swan" (it used to the The Bricklayers Arms", but that went a bit rubbish & was then made into 3 flats (though someone had put a Swan plaque up outside the middle flat)'

personally I always picture the Griffin, when he writes about the FS. It's probably just a random amalgam.

If in doubt, ask google:

"flying swan" brentford magpie - 80 results

"flying swan" brentford bricklayers - 100

Anyway. It doesn't matter. I'm still waiting to be congratulated on the fine title I came up with... ;-)

Halfie said...

OK, that's a fine title you came up with. Will that do?

bryangb said...

I live up the road from the old Bricklayers, it was indeed the "original" of the Flying Swan. However, when the Bricklayers closed Robert Rankin and his fans needed a new venue.

They've used the Princess Royal - also just up the road from the Bricklayers - a few times, including for Robert & Rachel's wedding reception in 2007, but eventually they settled on the Magpie. Subsequently, the Magpie was formally declared the "new" Flying Swan.

The new landlady Tam still hosts Rankin fan events from time to time, and the bar now features a beer labelled as being Large from the Brentford Triangle Brewery. I tried it the other day though, and sadly I wasn't impressed!