A+ A A-

The Village Green Preservation Society

By Piers Thompson
 
 
Why would you change the name of Finch’s? Along with The Blue Posts, it is one of the original brand names in pubs. With outposts in Chelsea, Portobello, Notting Hill Gate and Soho, it stood for both tradition and a funky bohemianism. Many a wide-eyed caper has been hatched amongst the dark wood and smoked glass.
 
It seems ironic that while eager gastropub-reneurs are working every angle to create value out of little pub chains, long standing mini-brands with oodles of authentic heritage and goodwill, like Finch’s, are abandoned. So Finch’s on Portobello Road, with its whiff of Keith Moon and Julie Christie, becomes The Duke of Wellington, just another pub on the Young’s estate. I mean, they don’t even make their beer in London anymore.
 

HH Finch was actually an Irishman called Lynch, an old fashioned gent in tweeds and a Range Rover with personalised number plate. He strode around St Johns Church at the top of the hill, as if in a low intensity rage that the racecourse had disappeared. He was in his very own micro-climate, which hinted at racing at Towcester in the Autumn. He had accumulated a small chain of pubs that included two or three boozers that had attained an iconic psychogeography as pivotal locations in A Seminal Scene. 
 

I have to admit that my first loyalty is to Finch’s on Fulham Road. It was my local from the age of 15 although my mother tried to put me off by painting a picture of the clientele as Irish Republicans in turtleneck jumpers, berets and shades. If I wasn’t already hooked on the seedy glamour described by Iris Murdoch in Under The Net, the existential terrorists clinched it. 
 
The alumni included Laurie Lee, Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas. Marianne Faithfull was still a regular. It 
was a place that would have welcomed M. Camus’ 

L’Etranger. It remains my local every other Saturday, before strolling down to the game at Stamford Bridge. It is where I wet my daughter’s head with the postman from the local sorting office. Hugh Grant used to be in the darts team: Matthew Freud a regular and welcome visitor.
 
Once Young & Co bought the chain, they set about destroying every last vestige of character. 
In serial refurbs, they bit by bit tore out the beautifully carved wood and elegantly smoked glass, until they finally reduced it to a big room with some sofas in it. It resembles those big 
coaching inns that the brewery owns on corners in Tooting and Mitcham, but with no redeeming features. So the days of Suggs, Johnny Vaughan, Johnny Lee Miller, Phil Daniels, Damon Albarn and the Seans Lock and Pertwee meeting to have a moan before the game are sadly over. You can’t even get a light and bitter there anymore.
 
The Finch’s lettering has been taken down and they call it Kings Arms. I can claim to have been there when the N fell out of the sign and hit Emily MacCaskie on the head. I took her over the road to the hospital (not the only date that ended in that particular A&E, I’m afraid).
 
 
Finch’s in Portobello was less literary louche and more rock n roll. According to Frendz in the early 70s, it was ‘where your cooler, more nervous, refined or trendy dealer goes to relax over a jar or two of plump barmaid.’ Michael Moorcock puts Jimi Hendrix in there. Nick Kent has Sylvain Sylvain dealing dope there. Keith Moon was often there, sometimes in the company of Viv Stanshall. So was John Bindon, and Goat and Charlie from the Windsor Chapter of Hells Angels.
 

Its position on the corner with Elgin Crescent has always given it an edge, and it has always featured on the scene, through punk, rave and trustafari. Some of the mythology is confused because the Earl Of Lonsdale up the road was a Finch’s before it became a Henekeys. That was a more regular haunt of Julie Christie’s.
 

So now I call it The Village Green, because you can sit over a lunchtime pint, and meet your entire address book or buy one of Ed Cain’s splendid Christmas trees or grab a pie from The Grocer. Won’t be long before Facebook buys the pub.
 
Keep in Constant Touch.
 
 
 
 
 
{module Facebook FanBox for articles} 
 
 
 
 

Comments  

#4 hugh 2010-01-20 12:26
Robbie Williams and Gavin Piggot were regulars there in the recent past.
#3 Old Mucker 2010-01-09 01:14
I know Emily is Patrick's sister. i spent swathes of my boyhood in the company of the Macaskies. Quite a family. Now, must get back to the village smithy in order to swap tales of the dreamtime before the internet.
#2 Piers Thompson 2010-01-08 12:58
Emily was indeed Patrick's sister. It was the day before her finals.
#1 Old Mucker 2010-01-08 12:34
Finch's on Elgin Crescent was one of the first pubs I ever drank in, although i am bound to say that for a naive public school boy it had a fairly worrisome ambience. Luckily I was usually in the company of less naive public school boys and Holland Parkers. Much later I drank there with even posher public school boys (though including, interestingly, yet another Macaskie, Patrick) every Monday after playing footie under the Westway. As for Finch's in Fulham Road, I am still mourning the passing of the unfortunately monikered BJs. My Mum drank at Finch's in the 50s and her Dad before her.

More News

Prev Next

Hits:4864

Portobello Radio Ep 42, with Chris Sullivan & Piers Thompson: The End Is Nigh Special.

Portobello

 Piping hot from the USB, the latest episode in ...

Read more

Hits:4174

Two meetings, one voice

Two meeting…

You had to be there. North and south of the boro...

Read more

Hits:27289

New Site

New Site

We're back ;)   Read more: New Site...

Read more

Hits:4370

Corbyn Won Kensington Nomination

Corbyn Won …

On July 21st Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly won th...

Read more

Hits:5325

Hats-off to Micky P: Portobello Live 3rd/4th May

Hats-off to…

Reflecting on the Portobello Live Festival - by ...

Read more

Hits:5886

Portobello community stands up against plans to turn iconic area into bland shopping centre

Portobello

Hundreds of protestors, including children and p...

Read more

More News 2

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Hits:7902

Greferendum: an anthology

Greferendum…

Thinking of Greece. ...

Read more

Hits:4854

Pink Cigar video release

Pink Cigar …

 Local down’n’dirty rock’n’roll outfit Pink Ciga...

Read more

Hits:7725

Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular

Gaz’s Rocki…

Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular ...

Read more

Hits:5333

Interactive Video Art at The Dissenters Gallery Catacombs

Interactive…

On Saturday 4 July, 11-5pm, a chance to see the ...

Read more

Hits:4500

"Exposed" a Solo Show by Louis-Nicholas Darbon

"Expos…

 Coming up Thursday- June 4th -  at the Graffik ...

Read more

Hits:4724

Mock The Opera Protest @ Holland Park

Mock The Op…

A protest is taking place tomorrow at the Hollan...

Read more

Hits:6685

Where next for Labour?

Where next …

 Labour’s defeat in the UK general election on M...

Read more

Hits:4552

Artists For Nepal – local benefit gig for Nepal

Artists For…

 Thursday May 21st at the Elgin with music, film...

Read more

Hits:5065

RED ALERT by Maximilian Wiedemann

RED ALERT b…

West Bank last exhibition at the current buildin...

Read more

Local Events Calendar

<<  November 2018  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
   
  

Upcoming Events

Social GK5

writers pic2

We're looking for writers! Join in! (scroll down the article)

Rants

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

I don't do …

I don't do rants. But,

...it's a rant! ...

Read more

Last Night …

Last Night I Dreamt...

"I could see the body of Kim Kardashian..." ...

Read more

Portobello …

Portobello drinkers 'harassed' by children

  From our sports correspondent Dave 'the ...

Read more

Everyone’s …

Everyone’s a F*****g DJ

by Kensal Scream  At long last! Another salvo f...

Read more

Lap dogs …

Lap dogs & devil dogs - the final solution

By Kensal Scream Time for another rant by the K...

Read more

Trains and …

Trains and  lycra pants

 By Kensal Scream That Really Grinds my Gears i...

Read more

An e-mail f…

An e-mail from Billy Connolly?

We can not be sure that  it’s his but it co...

Read more

Your Experience

Real time web analytics, Heat map tracking

Login or Sign Up