I'm glad to see that English Heritage has just listed 20 pubs from the interwar period. Products of the 'improved pub' movement that aimed to shake off the Victorian image of pubs as unsavoury drinking dens, these interwar establishments were intended to be wholesome and cheering features of the community, aimed at attracting respectable family men, their wives and even families. They are, most conspicuously, magnificent flights of fantasy - mock-Tudor, mock-baronial, mock-Georgian, mock-rustic, mock-sophisticated - and in this they are very much in keeping with the spirit of the times, and the national character.
The bald facts of history present the period following the Wall Street Crash as one of prolonged depression, unemployment, unrest and displacement - and yet its built heritage has come down to us as cheery, wholesome, and irremediably fantastic. As well as these fantasy pubs, there are fantasy factories and office buildings, whimsically pretending to be something else - and, above all, that vast acreage covered by mock-Tudor speculative housing, with its streets and avenues and crescents and 'drives', all lined with cosy three-bedroom semis clad in nailed-on 'half-timbering', where the Englishman could believe his (rented) family home was not only his castle but also his country cottage, complete with cottage garden. Domestic fantasy on this scale is, I think, a uniquely English phenomenon, a product of that cheerfully fantastic vein in the English character that is explored so brilliantly by Dickens and, after him, V.S. Pritchett. The pity is that so many of those jolly mock-Tudor semis have now been denatured by replacement windows and roofs and satellite dishes and, above all, by the removal of their front gardens to make parking space for the all-conquering car, whose intrusive presence everywhere has all but put paid to those interwar dreams of rus in urbe.
But now I'm off to the pub - cheers!