The smoking scene in London: Dunhill, briar clubs and smoking terraces
by H. Lee Murphy
Phillip Shervington, a sales manager at the revered James J. Fox tobacconist on St James’s Street in London, has been selling pipes in the neighborhood for more than half a century. “When I started here in the early 1960s there were two dozen pipe shops within a square mile of here,” Shervington, who is 77 years old, remembers.
“It was a great time to be in the tobacco business in London.”
It’s hardly necessary to note that most of those competing retailers are long gone, as all of England suffers through a smoking ban that was initiated in 2007. Kings and prime ministers once were photographed smoking pipes, but hardly any celebrity of note in the United Kingdom is caught clenching a briar in public anymore. Some leading lights of the industry have passed on recently, including, notably, Richard Dunhill, the former chairman of his family’s pipemaking company. Also gone is Dennis Marshall, a veteran of both Barling and Charatan who later in life made his own products under the name Millville Pipes, sold at Piccadilly Market within a few blocks of J.J. Fox. By midyear in 2017 all pipe tobacco will have to revert to plain packaging, with logos banned and ominous health warnings mandated in big type. Discouraged, one leading online retailer, GQ Tobaccos, announced last Christmas it was closing down.
Amid the doom and gloom, however, there is also room for optimism.
Read the rest of the story by subscribing to Pipes and tobaccos magazine or the online digital edition.