In the 1980s a pub called The Warwick Castle perched on the corner of Westbourne Park Road and Portobello Road was considered by it’s regulars to be the “centre of the world”. A melting pot of artists, musicians, movie makers and labourers.
Late last year, one of The Warwick’s regulars Ray Roughler Jones published a collection of photographs from the pub’s heyday, immortalizing the beloved boozer and paying tribute to a time gone by. The collection is a celebration of pub culture in Britain, of the 1980s and a world before Instagram. Where photos were truer, less posed, gritty and a better reflection of the real lives led by those captured for a moment in one of the dark, sweaty, drunken photographs included in the book.
For Ray the beauty of The Warwick was the “diversity of the place that fired the imagination”, fueling the underground scene of creatives that frequented it. Among the punters looking out from the pages, are some familiar faces: a very youthful Keith Allen, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Neneh Cherry and Mark Wingett.
But the character of the time, of the pub, is captured in the faces of the unknowns. Both young and old, regular punters in all their normalness and glory, laughing, posing, drinking and huddled on tatty seats. The photos included in this collection are a portal to the past, to another world when Notting Hill had an edge. The cigarettes, the darts, the pints, the dingy carpets, the ill fitting denim, the patterns, the make up and the hair.
In the book’s opening pages Jock Scot’s poem Ode to the Warwick is nestled between an introduction by Ray and a few words from Keith Allen. Though Ray, Keith and Jock romanticise the diversity of the crowd, they loved The Warwick because it was their place. Their spot. All enjoyed the quick departure of the “passing trade… they won’t be coming back here again” and to them, “that’s just as well”. This book celebrates having your own eclectic crowd, your own spot, your own “centre of the world”. And in the digital, rent hopping age, having a local in London is starting to become a distant concept. A nostalgic idea, a relic of our past society. This book will make you miss that time and long for a pint and a pub quiz with all your mates in a place you can call your own. And Joe Strummer dropping by to play a little acoustic set wouldn’t be too shabby either…