This corner of the museum represents elements of a typical living room in the area, with artifacts from the 1930s to 1970s. Some came from the local homes. The cabinet was in a flat in Levita House. The piano was for a long time in a home in this building. Many of the photos and trinkets come from the collections of people who live in the area.
With the coming of TV, home became a place of entertainment. Prior to this, it was cinema that provided some relief from the grind of work and allowed breathing space outside the overcrowded homes. Pubs were also second homes for many people – and the pubs had pianos, in the days before juke boxes and sound systems, and were used for singalongs.
There were once many pubs in Somers Town. When there was a Summer festival here in the 1970s, a feature of it was the pram race, a dash from pub to pub for a swift half with one person pushing and one in the pram.
Pubs have a special history here. One of the projects undertaken by the Saint Pancras House Improvement Society was the acquisition of a public house, The Anchor. The pub, which opened in 1929, with Jellicoe as publican, served beer, but no spirits. The decor was of a good standard. The pub was reformed – it sought to eliminate illicit and immoral behaviour – the very opposite of a Victorian gin palace. It was possible to get a good and cheap meal there in an upstairs room. This was the doing of Edith Neville who was a founder of the Restaurant Public Houses Association, which championed fewer but better pubs, and with food, in poor districts. Alongside food and drink, social services and religious counselling were available.
Part of working class life in the middle of the twentieth century was the working summer holiday hop picking. For up to six weeks, families would decamp from London to Kent. There were shorter pub trips to the seaside – and when at home the offer of mums and dads clubs, children’s activities and holidays.
Home is where you gather family, friends and meaningful things around you. Somers Town has been a stop on many journeys: French and Spanish exiles; railway workers from across the country resident in the Hampden Club; Irish navvies; migrants from Bangladeshis, refugees from Somalia and elsewhere. Included in this living room are some donated objects brought to Somers Town from elsewhere – including a means of communication, a tape recorder, for sending news from the adopted home back to those remaining in the old one.