Found: in Bloomsbury

Date: C.1910 

‘Every pub had a piano’ and most homes did, too. Central to social life; pianos were brought out into the street for parties. Life was outdoors in old Somers Town, where space was short. 

If you did not have space, the pub became your living room. Dave remembers the singer in the ‘Shep’ would start playing ‘When the saints come marching in’ on his arrival in the pub. The Anchor would get someone in who could play.

The songs spoke of hard times: ‘Buddy can you spare a dime?’ ‘Come inside’ tells the ‘silly bugger’  life’s easier in a lunatic asylum: ‘Fifty bob a week; no wife and kids to keep!’

There is even a Somers Town song: ‘It’s only a shanty in old Somers Town’: a corruption of a popular song ‘It’s only a shanty in old Shanty Town’, appropriate for a less salubrious living conditions. 

This piano was donated by Tony, who needed the space in his flat in Bloomsbury. It was owned by his wife’s family, who had lived at 24 Chamberlain House: the Sharp family, a large Somers Town family. 

So the piano has returned home.

By Diana Foster

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