Phillumenists of the world united in smoky old pubs

A small sample of Alan Fulford's beer mat and matchbox collection
A small sample of Alan Fulford's beer mat and matchbox collection

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Ballet shoes put on show in museum

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Simon Hart’s collection of pub-themed matchboxes from the Portsmouth area really rang bells with many of you.

Alan Fulford, of Kent Road, Gosport, was another who collected the matchboxes in the 1970s... and beer mats too.

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He says: ‘I still have them and many of them are of the Portsmouth and Gosport areas and many of the pubs have since closed.’

As you can see, the matchboxes with their pictures of pubs stuck on the top were produced for Portsmouth-brewery and pub company Whitbread.

And the beer mats were sponsored by Brickwoods which eventually sold out to that other giant Portsmouth brewer, Whitbread.

David Burgess, who describes himself as a ‘Copnor lad’, tells me: ‘The matchboxes were the brainchild of Peter Boulden’s Matchboxes, an entrepreneur based at Duncan Road, Park Gate, in the 1970s.

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‘He would produce the personalised designs for the various pub landlords. At one time I believe that he was the “recommended” contracted supplier to the Whitbread estate of public houses in the whole of the local area/region.

‘At the height of the business, he was doing very nicely thank you.’

And did you know there’s even a word for someone who collects matchboxes or matchbooks? There had to be, I suppose.

And the answer, for all you crossword and Scrabble fans out there, is a phillumenist.

Frank Jarvis got in touch to remind me that smoking in pubs was de rigeur in the 1970s.

He says: ‘Having your own matchbox was cheap and easy advertising.

‘As a keen phillumenist in those days, I built up a collection of, probably, 10,000-plus matchbox labels which are still in my loft.’

Rob Hall says the Brickwoods/Whitbread labels and mats were produced for all their pubs, not just those in this area.

‘Typically the matchbox would feature a picture of the pub or a graphic of the pub’s sign.

‘These were a standard advertising technique in the 1970s along with beer mats.’