It was 1956. Look Back in Anger had caused ructions at the Royal Court in Sloane Square. Nearby lived Tony Warren, actor and would-be scriptwriter. His neighbours were mainly servants of the Grosvenor Estate, living in humble houses on a sooty terraced street.
The pub on the corner was the Fox and Hounds. Still is. And unlike the rest of the street, it looks as though it has changed little in the 60 years or so since Warren’s planned series, “Our Street”, was rejected by the BBC.
Granada accepted a similar script, albeit with a changed name and location – Salford in Warren’s native North West. Still, it’s a rum thought that he may have had elements of Passmore Street, Belgravia, in mind when he wrote the early scenes of Coronation Street.
Like the Rovers Return, the Fox and Hounds thrives under female licensees. “Landlords never seem to last longer than a year,” says Dee Dean, landlady these past 16 years.
To my left is the smallest aspidistra in the world. And in front of me, the best-kept pint of Young's Bitter I've had for many a year
Previous incumbents have included the sisters of the late comedian Jimmy Edwards, a past owner of the pub. One of the paintings on the maroon-embossed wallpaper captures a bewhiskered Jimmy in hunting pink, emerging from a stream after being thrown from his horse. I can see it from my comfortable settle, just inside the front door.
To the left is the smallest aspidistra in the world. And on the gleamingly polished table in front of me is the best-kept pint of Young’s Bitter that I’ve had for many a year, albeit at a price that would cause palpitations in Salford.
Meal options are limited to Scotch eggs and pork pies. There are restaurants aplenty nearby and, as Dee puts it, “we’re a drinkers’ pub where you might find a street cleaner talking to a High Court judge”.
The Young’s goes perfectly with the pork pie that has just been delivered, duly accessorised with a knife and a jar of English mustard. Dijon and a tossed salad would be about as likely here as one of Betty’s infamous hot pots being served up at the Rovers topped off with a gratin dauphinoise.
29 Passmore Street, London SW1W 8HR
020 7730 6367; foxandhoundssw1.co.uk