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"Behind The Bar" by John Henry Henshall, 1882
Twyford's 1888 trade catalogue (photo kindly supplied by Terry Woolliscroft)
Pulling Pints - Victorian Style
I have photographed and described individually well over 80 beer pump handles, but freely admit that I have no knowledge as to when, where, and by whom they were made. Doulton, Twyfords, Minton, Chelsea and Wedgwood are just some of the names associated with the manufacture of such items during the 19th and early 20th century. But beyond some bearing a number inscribed around the base they have no other identifying marks. If anyone is able to add any information in this regard I would be pleased to hear from them.
Here is a page reproduced from the 1888 edition of Thomas Twyford's trade catalogue. Twyford's are perhaps better known as a producer of sanitary ware. This, however, shows that there was a more diverse side to their range, which included spirit barrels and highly coloured and decorated beer pump handles. Interestingly, by 1896 their catalogue had reverted back to offering just the same three plain white options (plus one additional shape variation) as had been listed in their catalogue of 1879. This might even suggest that the late 1880s may have represented the heyday of the Victorian decorated beer-pump handle, after which time fashions changed as the exuberance of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887 gave way to more sober times:
Everyone loves the traditional English pub. It is a fundamental feature of our national identity. In a fast and ever-changing world the traditional pub represents something that is innately reassuring; something that appeals to our sense of nostalgia and history. Yet whilst it may appear to be rooted in the past, some elements of that venerable institution have not remained immune to the march of time and, like everything else, have been quietly changing and evolving. I refer to the barware and dispensing equipment to which most people do not give a second thought, but which contribute just as much to the character of the pub as its more obvious features such as the exterior design and interior decor (not forgetting, of course, that essential main ingredient - the pub's lifeblood - its regulars!).
I decided to start my own website because there was surprisingly little information or photographic references relating to the subject to be found anywhere else. I am sure there must be other people out there who share my interest, and I felt the need to add my own small contribution to the knowledge pool - in particular to the visual imagery available.
I like to think that my site provides a valuable and important information resource. It features descriptions and photographs of now rarely-to-be-seen items of Victorian and vintage breweriana that form my collection which I have slowly built up over the years, its main focus being beer engines and beer-pump handles.
All the photographs of beer engines and beer pump handles on this site, except where otherwise stated, are photographs of my actual collection.
Please do not copy these photographs without my permission.