Pandemic Pondering #217

Friday Night in Union Street 1948.

A couple of days ago a Local History group on Facebook published some photographs of a mural that was discovered under layers of wallpaper in a Union Street bar. If you have any interest in Plymouth history this is a great page to follow.

Local History is one of the great strengths of Facebook. Local History Facebook pages are hubs of knowledge that become magnets for new information or insights into a local area. They are the modern version of the Local History shelf at Libraries.

I already had some photographs from the mural , taken during one of Plymouths Art Weekender Festivals. Gloria Dixon who is the administrator of the Facebook page Old Plymouth Society has a much better range of images.

She has written a very good account of the mural on the Old Plymouth Society FB Page, I urge you to visit the page.

The artist, who created the mural, Vincent Bennett took the well- worn path, familiar to many creative Plymothians and moved to London at the age of 20, where he not only painted commercially, but also boxed, to earn a living. It was the boxing that caused him to return to Plymouth just two years later. A head injury forced him to return to his home city in 1932 and he added teaching and drumming to his portfolio of money earning skills. Eighteen years later he painted the mural at what was then called the Sydenham Arms.

The story of Vincent Bennett seems so much more tangible and intriguing than the Plymouth to London story of Joshua Reynolds, another Plymouth man, nearly 200 years earlier. For me it is not only that much of the city he occupied still exists but that his subject matter is much closer to my own life experiences.

A drink in the Clipper, as the Sydenham Arms became, was always an experience, even if I was never as glamourous as the woman in the red dress. My grandfather, a sailor, far from his Essex home would almost certainly have known The Sydenham Arms and enjoyed all that Union Street had to offer.

The mural can be seen in its original location 63, Union Street, Plymouth. Currently the property is a Community Cafe.


The link above is to a gallery website.