Category Archives: London Pubs

Tracing London’s old pubs

The Footman and Red Lion – A Tale of Two Charles Street Pubs

Charles Street is a typical Mayfair street. A varied range of architecture, a hotel, private houses, investment and wealth management companies, corporate offices, embassies, and much more hidden behind the facades of tall buildings that line the street.

I recently went for a walk along the street to find two pubs, the Footman and the Red Lion.

A photo of the Footman appeared in the 1920s three volume set of Wonderful London, when it was known as the Running Footman:

Running Footman pub

The following text is the commentary to the above photo in Wonderful London:

“THE RUNNING FOOTMAN, A PICTURE OF THE OLD MAYFAIR – Charles Street, off Berkeley Square, retains a pub named after that special kind of servant whose duty it was to run before the crawling family coach, help it out of ruts, warn toll-keepers, and clear the way generally. He wore a livery and usually carried a cane. The last person to employ a Running Footman is said to have been ‘Old Q.’ the Duke of Queensbery who died in 1810. The faded sign is fixed to the bay in the side street and appears here, over the taxi. The tavern is a bit of London from the days of ‘the Quality’, whose servants it served.”

Wonderful London has a rather rose tinted view of the role of a running footman. I suspect in reality it was really difficult and exhausting to keep ahead of a coach, and carry out any other manual activities such as lifting the coach out of outs.

I found an alternative description of the role of a running footman, which is probably more realistic:

“The Running Footman – men have adopted various inhuman methods to increase their self-importance at different epochs, but few more inhuman than that of the running footman, of whom Mr. John Owen writes in his new novel, published today under the title of ‘The Running Footman’.

This 18th century barbarism, whereby a man was forced to run 30 yards in front of his master’s coach for incredible distances, naturally resulted in the runners death from heart disease or consumption.”

The following print from 1741 is a satirical interpretation of the opposition methods in the parliamentary motion to remove Robert Walpole from office, and shows a Running Footman at the left of the print, running in front of a team of horses and the coach.

As described in Wonderful London, he is carrying a cane © The Trustees of the British Museum):

Running Footman pub

There was an interesting story of a Running Footman in the newspapers on the 5th of October, 1728, which hints at how fast they could run:

“A Foot Race of two Miles being Advertised to be Run last Thursday on the Marshes near Hackney River by young Women for a Holland Shift, as three were dressing in order to start, one of them was discovered to be a Running Footman to a Person of Quality, who seeing he was betrayed found means to re-mount the Horse he rode on with a Side-Saddle. The Mob understanding the matter pursued him in order to duck him in the River, but to make more speed, he dismounted, rid himself of his Petticoats, took to his Heels and got clear of them, after much more Diversion than the Race, which was afterwards run by the other two.”

The pub that is shown in the Wonderful London photo would only last for around another 10 years, as in the 1930s, the Running Footman would be rebuilt in the red brick style of pubs of the time, and it is this version of the pub that we find in Charles Street today, with the name truncated to just The Footman:

Running Footman pub

The shorter name is relatively recent as the pub also had the names “The Only Running Footman” and “I am the Only Running Footman”.

The original pub dates from the mid-18th century, and there are online references to the pub originally being called the Running Horse, although I cannot find any references from the late 18th century of a pub in Charles Street with this name.

The first newspaper references to the Running Footman date from the first decades of the 19th century, for example in May 1821 there were stables for sale in Charles Street, and the Running Footman was given as one of the places were details of the sale could be found.

The 1930s rebuild features an interesting extension to the roof, and the building is now taller than the rest of the terrace of which it was part:

Running Footman pub

The above photo shows the eastern end of Charles Street, with the southern end of Berkeley Square to the right.

Charles Street seems to have been laid out during the later part of the 17th century. Rocque’s map of 1746 shows the surrounding built area, the upper eastern part of Charles Street has been built, and a blank space with street outlines covering the area west and north of Charles Street. The yellow circle marks the location of the Running Footman:

Running Footman pub

Although the map shows street outlines, the layout today is slightly different, and Charles Street extends to the corner of the space occupied by the large house at left, where it turns north. It was here I was heading next to find another pub, and to look at the mix of architecture along the street.

The original build of Charles Street was mid to late 18th century / early 19th century, brick terrace houses, and over the following decades many of these would be combined and rebuilt to leave the mix of architectural styles and periods that we see today:

Charles Street

At the junction with Queen Street, there is an open space with a tree in the centre, with the street turning slightly to the north. This point was the original end of Charles Street as shown in Rocque’s 1746 map, so the street may have originally terminated here, before being extended on as development of the area completed.

Charles Street

And as we walk along Charles Street, we continue to see the mix of architecture, including where original terrace houses have been combined and a new stone façade has been built over the original brick:

Charles Street

On the house shown above, there is a London County Council plaque stating that Archibald Philip Primrose, the 5th Earl of Rosebery was born in the house in 1847:

Rosebery

He was Prime Minister in the years 1894 and 1895, and he was also Chairman of the London County Council in 1889 and 1890, then again in 1892, and Rosebery Avenue in Clerkenwell is named after him. Rosebery Avenue was one of the late 19th century major roads built across London to ease the growing congestion of the time, and that swept away many old street, courts and alleys.

Towards the western end of Charles Street, the street suddenly narrows as it turns to run along the northern edge of large, terrace houses. This change in the street marks the point where the original gardens of Chesterfield House (see the extract from Rocque’s map earlier in the post) extended, with the street turning along the north east corner of the old gardens:

Red Lion Pub Charles Street

At the end of the narrow section of Charles Street, where there is a sharp bend up towards Waverton Street we can see what remains of the Red Lion, the second pub I was looking for in Charles Street (the scaffolding is on the building opposite, not on the old pub):

Red Lion Pub Charles Street

The Red Lion is now a residential property, having closed as a pub in 2009.

The building still retains some of the features of a London pub on the facade facing the street, however the rest of the building is very different.

After closing as a pub, it underwent a very significant rebuild, both above and below ground to create a very different space behind the façade.

I would not normally put a link to the Mail Online in the blog, however this is where I found an article on the conversion of the building from pub to residential, which includes a number of photos of the interior of the building, which are hard to reconcile with the view when you stand outside, and shows what can be done if you have £25 million to spare (in 2009).

The article is here.

A look down Red Lion Yard at the side of the old pub shows the way that the building has been extended above ground, in addition to the two levels below ground which doubled the overall space:

Red Lion Yard

The article described the pub as a “dingy drinking establishment“. It did seem to have been left to run down over the last few years of being a pub, but in the few times I went in, it always seemed to be reasonably busy.

Unlike the Running Footman, the Red Lion was in a rather hidden part of the local streets, and it was a “local” pub so perhaps trade was not enough to keep the pub viable.

I suspect that when the company that owned the pub was offered a good sum of money, it was worth selling for development rather than retaining as a pub.

At the end of the alley leading into Red Lion Yard is this square of buildings, which again shows a level of redevelopment:

Red Lion Yard

Entrance to Red Lion Yard alongside the old Red Lion:

Red Lion pub Charles Street

Although the Red Lion is at the end of Charles Street, it is also in the southern edge of Waverton Street, with a short section leading up to Hill Street before continuing northwards. A short distance from the Red Lion in Waverton Street, significant development continues:

Charles Street

Looking back from in front of the Red Lion, along Charles Street. Again this narrow section of the street once had the gardens of Chesterfield House on the right:

Charles Street

Walking back along Charles Street, and this is Dartmouth House:

Dartmouth House Charles Street

Dartmouth House is another building which started off as part of a brick terrace of houses, but after combining individual houses, extending the resulting building and constructing a new stone façade, we get the building we see today.

the first recorded resident was the Dowager Duchess of Chandos in 1757, and for the following centuries the house has been occupied mainly by a succession of Dukes, Earls, a Dowager and a Marquis – or “The Quality” as Wonderful London and other early references to the role of a Running Footman would have referred to them.

Since 1926, Dartmouth House has been the headquarters of the English Speaking Union (ESU).

The ESU have published a brief history of the house, and within this they reference the River Tyburn and that the brook runs under Dartmouth House and caused serious damage to papers stored in the basement in the 1990s.

According to “The Lost Rivers of London” by Nicholas Barton and Stephen Myers the Tyburn runs slightly to the east and south. Under the south eastern corner of Berkeley Square towards Curzon Street, rather than running under Dartmouth House, however the basement of Dartmouth House is within what would have been the marshy area surrounding the Tyburn and any remaining springs, a high water table after heavy rains etc. could still result in basement flooding.

Just one of the ways in which the pre-built environment, when the area was all fields streams and ponds, occasionally still bursts through to the 21st century.

A house with a green City of Westminster plaque on the ground floor:

Charles Street

The plaque states that Lady Dorothy Nevill lived in the house from 1873 to 1913:

Charles Street

Born in 1826, she was the daughter of Horace Walpole and Mary Fawkener.

When she died in 1913, obituaries stated that she was one of the more important links between the Victorian and present eras, and that she had lived through the reigns of George IV, William IV, Victoria, Edward VII and George V.

Her obituaries stated that she was “profoundly conscious of the fact that she was connected in blood with many of the leading families in England; but unlike most British aristocrats (remarks the Times), though a keen Conservative in politics, fully alive to the changes that time had brought upon English Society.”

Her support of Conservative politics was such that she “was one of the two or three ladies responsible for the founding of the Primrose League; indeed it is said to have been first suggested at her luncheon table; and every year on April 19 her windows and balconies were covered with primroses”.

The Primrose League (named after the favourite flower of Benjamin Disraeli) was founded in 1883 and was a Conservative supporting, mass membership organisation, formed to promote the aims of the Conservative party across the country, and support the election of Conservative candidates.

The success of the league was such that in ten years, membership had reached over one million, and there were members across the country, including the industrial towns of the north.

There were however, many sceptical of the organisation, and the Edinburgh Evening News on the 2nd of February 1884 was reporting that:

“That latest of Conservative follies, the Primrose League, is pushing its way. A considerable number of people have joined it, and its organisors assert that it will in the course of time become a powerful element of Tory reaction. It has been decided to start a branch of the League at Birmingham, with a view of assisting the candidature of Lord Randolph Churchill.

A correspondent suggests however, that an institution like the Primrose League is more suited for the atmousphere of Belgravia than Birmingham.

It was established by some rather weak-minded Conservatives in the West End of London, and it is not likely that it will be largely supported by the artisans of Birmingham. The League intends to hold a great demonstration on April 19th, the anniversary of Lord Beaconsfield’s death. There is some talk of its members walking through the metropolis in a monster procession.”

Surprisingly, the Primrose League lasted until 2004, when it was disbanded.

Her obituary also remarked that “The Sunday luncheon parties at her little house in Charles Street were the meeting place of people of all kinds of opinion, drawn from many walks of life, though she herself was fond of saying that her society was exclusive, dull people being never admitted”.

I like the description of her house in Charles Street being described as “her little house”, but I suppose that all things are relative for “The Quality”.

Whilst many of the buildings along Charles Street have changed significantly since the street was first developed, there are some original houses, and some of these have had some rather strange additions, such as this terrace house with a stone bay window that looks as if it has been randomly stuck on the building:

Running Footman pub

At the Berkeley Square end of the street there is, what the Historic England listing describes as “Two full height canted bays of 3 sashes each per floor and a 2 storey 2 window extension to left hand”. This is the rear of the Grade II listed 52 and 52A Berkeley Square, which date back to around 1750 and form part of the first development along Charles Street:

Charles Street

Charles Street is an interesting little street. Many of the buildings have an aristocratic heritage, as does the origins of the name of the Footman pub.

It is brilliant that the Footman survives, and the loss of the Red Lion is a shame. I do not know the reasons for the pub’s closure, but I often wonder in the planning decisions for pub conversions, just how much consideration is given to the change in use, and the loss of a community asset.

These converted properties often become trophy assets that add very little to the area.

Theoretically, it should now be much harder to get planning permission for the conversion of a pub.

The London Plan, published by the Mayor of London, includes “Policy HC7
Protecting public houses”
which does appear to provide a strong framework for resisting the conversion of a pub to alternative uses, however I suspect there are always ways and means to get around such constraints.

On a positive note for the area, Charles Street is in the City of Westminster, which in the 2017 London Pubs Annual Data Note (part of the Greater London Authorities Cultural Infrastructure Report), and Westminster had the highest number of pubs of any borough in London with 430,

In second place was Camden with 230 and in third place was Islington with 215. Barking and Dagenham had the fewest number of pubs, with just 20.

I did not take any photos of the Red Lion when it was open, which I regret. You do not appreciate places until they are gone, and this is now one of the reasons why I probably take too many photos of even the most mundane street scene, as you know for sure, that within London – at some point it will have changed.

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St Bride’s Tavern, Bridewell Place, Prison and Palace

In 2020 I wrote a couple of posts on City of London pubs. It was in the middle of the Covid pandemic, and between a couple of lock downs I walked a very quiet City of London, photographing all the old pubs. A project based on what I have learnt from exploring all my father’s photos – it is the ordinary that changes so quickly, and we seldom notice trends or significant changes until they have happened.

Since that post, just three years ago, three pubs have closed. The White Swan in Fetter Lane has been demolished, the Tipperary in Fleet Street has been closed for some time and it is doubtful if it will reopen, and the latest pub to close is the St. Bride’s Tavern in Bridewell Place, which I photographed a couple of weeks ago:

St. Bride's Tavern

It was not down to a post pandemic lack of trade, or any financial problems with the pub, it was that the owner of the property would not let the pub renew the lease in January 2023, so the pub closed on Friday the 23rd of December 2022.

The owner of the land plans to strip back the office block to the right of the pub in the above photo, demolish the pub, and rebuild the building on the right with a new extension where the St. Bride’s Tavern is now located. to create a much large office block.

There was a well supported application to the City of London Environment Department to nominate the St. Bride’s Tavern as an Asset of Community Value, however this did not work, and closure went ahead.

With the trend of recent years for greater working from home, and a general decline in the need for office space, I really do wonder why establishments such as the St. Bride’s Tavern need to be demolished to create new office space.

The City of London was also planning to pivot more towards heritage, culture, arts and tourism as a response to post pandemic working, and retaining pubs would align with this strategy, however the City is being reasonably successful in tempting businesses to move back to the City from Canary Wharf as companies such as HSBC let go of large office space in the Isle of Dogs, in favour of smaller offices in the City.

An image of the new development can be seen on the website of the company that secured planning approval for the development. Click here to see the news item.

The image at top left shows the smaller extension of the new development to the rear of the main building on New Bridge Street, and the details of the development include the statement that there will be a “re-provided public house at ground-floor and part-basement level”, however a pub as part of the ground floor and basement of a modern office block just does not have the character and attraction of a dedicated building.

The building in which the St. Bride’s Tavern was located is not particularly attractive. A post-war development, which does have a rather unusual central bay of windows that runs up to include the second floor. This always looked good in the evening when the bay windows were lit.

The following photo shows St. Bride’s Tavern when it was open back in 2020:

St. Bride's Tavern

Decoration at the top of the bay windows:

St. Bride's Tavern

The pub sign has been removed, however I did photograph the sign back in 2020, which showed the tower of the church after which the pub was named:

St. Bride's Tavern

The pub is a post war building as the pre-war buildings on the site had been damaged during the war.

I am not sure that the site of the pub today is the original site of the pub as in the 1894 Ordnance Survey map it was not marked as a Public House and the building on the site appears to have been occupied by a Police Station of the 3rd Division.

Searching through old newspaper reports about the pub and a St. Bride’s Tavern appears to have been in the street behind the current pub – Bride Lane, for example in the Daily News on Saturday October the 19th, 1901, the pub was up for sale: “Freehold ground rent of £100 per annum, exceptionally well secured upon those fully-licensed premises, licensed as the White Boar, but also known as the St. Bride’s Tavern, Bride-lane, Fleet-street”.

Also, in the East London Observer on the 8th of December, 1900, there was a report on the marriage of Charles Seaward who was the Licensed Victualler of the Drum and Monkey pub in Whitecross-street and Miss Clara C. Wilkins, the manageress of the St. Bride’s Tavern, Bride-lane, Ludgate Circus. The wedding took place at St. Bride’s Church and the wedding breakfast was held in the St. Bride’s Tavern, from where the newly married couple would leave, later in the day, for a honeymoon in Brighton.

In the following extract from the 1894 OS map, I have ringed the current site of the St. Bride’s Tavern in red (and not labelled as a public house), and the pub that I believe was the original White Boar / St. Bride’s Tavern in yellow, and in the 1951 revision of the OS map, the pub in Bride Lane is still marked, with the space of the current pub an empty space (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

St. Bride's Tavern

The current St. Bride’s Tavern building does extend all the way between Bridewell Place and Bride Lane, so I suspect that the original pub may have wanted a larger site, and had available the land almost directly opposite, with the new pub still retaining an aspect (although the rear) onto Bride Lane.

If the site of the current pub was also the site of the original, it would have faced onto Bride Lane so could have had that address, but it was not marked as a public house in the OS map.

I have marked the site today of the pub with a red circle in the following map (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

St. Bride's Tavern

The St. Bride’s Tavern is named after the nearby church, as the image on the pub sign confirms, however the pub is in Bridewell Place, which is a very historic name and location.

The name Bridewell originally came from a well between Fleet Street and the Thames, which was dedicated to St. Bride. The name Bridewell was also given to what was described as a “stately and beautiful house” built by Henry VIII in 1522.

London Past and Present, by Henry B. Wheatley (1891) provides the following information: “Built by Henry VIII in the year 1522 for the reception of Charles V of Spain. Charles himself was lodged at Blackfriars, but his nobles in this new built Bridewell, ‘a gallery being made out of the house over the water (the Fleet) and through the wall of the City into the Emperor’s lodgings at the Blackfriars”

The Agas map includes an image of Bridewell, alongside the Fleet and part of which looked onto the Thames. In the 16th century the bank of the river was further in land than the river is today:

Bridewell

The following print from 1818 shows Bridewell Palace as it appeared in 1660 © The Trustees of the British Museum):

Bridewell

We can see what was by the 17th century, the narrow entrance to the Fleet, Bridewell on the left bank and part of Blackfriars on the right.

The print provides the following background: “Bridewell in its original state , was a building of considerable magnitude, as well as grandeur, extending from the banks of the Thames southward, as far north as the present Bride Lane, and having a noble castellated front towards the river, the interior was divided into different squares or courts with cloisters, gardens &c. as represented in the vignette. King Henry VIII built this Palace for the entertainment of the Emperor Charles V, but it retained the dignity of a Royal residence only during the former, being converted into an Hospital by Edward VI who gave it to the City for the maintenance and employment of vagrants and Idle Persons and of Poor Boys uniting it in one cooperation with Bethlem Hospital. A very small part of the original structure now remains.”

So if Henry VIII’s Bridewell extended as far north as Bride Lane, then the St. Bride’s Tavern of today is located inside the very northern edge of the old palace.

London Past and Present, by Henry B. Wheatley (1891) provides the following regarding the change in use of the building: “Bridewell, a manor or house, so called – presented to the City of London by King Edward VI, after an appeal through Mr. Secretary Cecil and a sermon by Bishop Ridley, who begged it of the King as a workhouse for the Poor, and a house of Correction ‘for the strumpet and idle person, for the rioter that consumeth all, and for the vagabond that will abide in no place”.

The problem for the new institution was that the availability of food and lodgings in the workhouse attracted people from across London, and it was “found to be a serious inconvenience. Idle and abandoned people from the outskirts of London and parts adjacent, under colour of seeking an asylum in the new institution, settled in London in great numbers, to the great annoyance of the graver residents.”

A number of children that were housed at Bridewell ended up being transported to the United States following a petition in 1618 from the Virginia Company for 100 children of the streets, who have no homes or anyone to support or provide for them. These children became part of the new colony at Jamestown. 

In response to complaints about the numbers attracted to the institution, the City changed parts of the buildings of the Bridewell into a granary, however in 1666 the original house and precincts were destroyed in the Great Fire.

A new house was built in a “more magnificent and convenient manner than formerly”, and these new buildings, based around two central courtyards, can be seen in the centre of the following extract from Rocque’s 1746 map:

Bridewell

In the early 18th century, Bridewell was a place where are “maintained and brought up in the diverse arts and mysteries a considerable number of apprentices”, however “vagrants and strumpets” were still being committed into Bridewell with an average of 421 per year, with a peak of 673 in 1752.

Bridewell took on the role of a prison, and as well as holding a City Magistrates Court, the buildings also had seventy cells for male offenders and thirty for female.

Taking one year, 1743, we can get a view of some of the reasons why Londoners were being taken to Bridewell;

  • Margaret Skylight (a Fortune Teller) was committed to Bridewell for stealing a pair of diamond ear rings
  • On Saturday last a Man was committed to the Bridewell of this City for retailing Spirituous Liquors without a licence
  • Last Wednesday Francis Karver, alias Blind Fanny was committed to Old Bridewell for hawking newspapers, not being duty stamped, contrary to Act of Parliament
  • On Sunday Night last, a Parcel of Link-Men, who generally ply about Temple-Bar, made a sham Quarrel near that place, and got a great number of people together, several of whom had their pockets pick’d, by another Gang of Roques, who mingled with the Crowd, as has been very often practiced. We hear four Rogues have been since committed to Bridewell
  • Yesterday James Williamson was committed to Bridewell by Mr. Alderman Arnold, for attempting to pick the Pocket of one William Burris, last Saturday Night of his Handkerchief; while he was carrying him to the Constable, one of the Gang picked his Pocket of his Watch.

I hope I have the location of all the above correct, as by the early 18th century, the name Bridewell had become a common term for a prison, or place where someone was remanded before being put up before a judge.

In London there was a Bridewell in Clerkenwell and one at Tothill Fields, Westminster, and there were several so called Bridewell’s across the country, including one at Oxford and another at Colchester.

In newspaper reports, the name was often given as Clerkenwell Bridewell or Oxford Bridewell, whereas the original establishment seems to have been referred to as simply Bridewell or Old Bridewell.

The large numbers of apprentices at Bridewell also seem to have caused much trouble in the surrounding area. They were called Bridewell Boys, and also in 1743: “On Thursday Night last about Nine o’clock, as some Bridewell Boys were coming through Shoe-lane, they attacked two women, who ran for refuge into the Salutation Tavern near Field Lane End, the Boys followed them, and to get at them, broke the glasses of the Bar, on which one of them was seized, whereupon the others retired, but soon returned in greater numbers, armed with broomsticks, &c. and demanded their Companion; which being refused, they broke all the Windows, Lamps, and whatever else they could get at; however at length, several of them were secured, and it is hoped will meet with a Punishment due to their Crime.”

Bridewell also makes an appearance in Captain Grose’s “Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence”, or the “1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, with the term Flogging Cove, which was used to describe the beadle, or whipper, in Bridewell.

This print dating from 1822 shows part of the quadrangle at Bridewell, with the male prison, part of the female, and the Great Hall. Note the bars over the windows in the central block, and small windows in the block to the left © The Trustees of the British Museum):

Bridewell

The end of Bridewell as a prison came in the 1860s when the City Prison at Holloway was built in 1863, following which, the materials of Bridewell were sold at auction and cleared away by the following year, with the chapel being demolished in 1871.

Bridewell featured in one of the prints by Hogarth in his 1732 series “A Harlot’s Progress”, and in this print we see Moll, the women featured through the series, still in her finery, as she is beating hemp, along with other inmates, under the watchful eye of a warden © The Trustees of the British Museum):

Bridewell

Although Bridewell prison has long gone, the 1805 former offices of the Bridewell Prison / Hospital and entrance from New Bridge Street survives.

I have taken a photo of the building and its associated plaque several times, but cannot find them (if you knows of a cheap and efficient application for sorting and indexing thousands of digital photos, I would be really grateful), however the wonderful Geograph site came to the rescue, and the Grade II* listed building can be seen here, between the traffic lights:

Bridewell

Looking south down New Bridge Street cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Basher Eyre – geograph.org.uk/p/923440

The St. Bride’s Tavern will soon be similar to Bridewell – just a memory on the ever changing streets of London.

The development proposals apparently include a pub within the ground floor and basement of the new office block, but this will not be the same as the dedicated pub that currently stands on the site.

Three City of London pubs have now closed since my walk in 2020. How many more over the coming years will suffer the same fate?

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Redchurch Street and the Dolphin Pub

If you would like to come on my Limehouse walk, I have just had a couple of tickets come available. Two tickets on Saturday 19th of August, and one ticket on Sunday 20th of August. All other walks are fully booked.

I was unsure about using this 1980s photo as the subject of a blog post, as there did not seem anything of specific interest in the view. The photo was taken at the junction of Bethnal Green Road (not visible, but to the left) and Redchurch Street, the street on the right:

Redchurch Street

I assume the two old columns were the reason my father took the photos. Rather than lighting columns, I believe these are ventilation columns for the toilets below ground:

Redchurch Street

The following photo is looking over to the location of the toilets, some forty years later in 2023. The toilets have gone, one of the columns remains, and a rather strange building now stands over the site of the toilets.

Redchurch Street

The column appears to be the one that was at the rear of the original photos, and has been relocated to the corner of the junction.

Bethnal Green Road is to the left and Redchurch Street is to the right.

Taking a look inside the building over the site of the toilets, and if you look at the far end to the right, it is hard to see, but there is a descent down to below ground level, a handrail on the left and a sloping ceiling. This was presumably the stairs down to the toilet area below.

Redchurch Street

And to the side of the building are the glass tiles which cover much of the area in the 1980s photos, and originally provided light to the space below, which I assume they still do.

Redchurch Street

The toilets in the 1980s photo were typical of the underground toilets found at many locations across London. They were built around the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries and were part of the late Victorian drive to improve the city.

They have now nearly all closed. The demands on local authority budgets have meant that facilities such as these, which are not part of their legal responsibilities to provide, were among the first to go.

The one exception is the City of London, and although they have closed their old toilets, they have at least installed new facilities, or included them as a requirement of planning permission for new developments.

Many of these you have to pay to use, however the City does have a number of free to use toilets tucked away in places such as their car parks under London Wall, or at the Minories.

I have been photographing the above ground remnants of these rather enlightened improvements to the City, so perhaps a subject for a future post.

And that was as far as I thought I could go with the two 1980s photos, but as usual with any London scene, there is always something else to discover and learn, and so it is with these photos.

If you look along the street on the right in the first photo at the top of the post, there is a pub sign, with the ground floor of the pub just visible. This was the Dolphin pub, and I have enlarged the section showing the pub sign below:

Dolphin Pub

The Dolphin closed in 2002, and the ground floor is now occupied by a Labour And Wait store, with the floors above presumably being used as residential.

The old pub as it appears in 2023:

Dolphin Pub

There is not that much to discover about the Dolphin. It did not feature in many news reports, or place any adverts as to the excellence of their beers which was typical practice for most London pubs.

The one newsworthy event seems to have been a robbery in 1929, when a Henry Bently, 39, of Scalater Street in Bethnal Green, leant over the bar to take four £1 notes from the till. He was pursued by the landlord, he escaped, but later came forward as he appears to have been a regular at the pub, and therefore well known.

The interesting thing about the 1929 article was that the address was given as Church Street, rather than Redchurch Street as the street is now know, so I started to look at some maps.

Firstly, the map of the area today, and in the following extract, the dark blue circle is around the space where the toilets were located, and you can see the main road of Bethnal Green Road heading south west, at this junction, with Redchurch Street turning off from Bethnal Green Road. The old Dolphin pub is marked by the red circle ( © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Redchurch Street

Looking at some older maps, starting with Smith’s New Plan of London from 1816, and I have again marked the location of the toilets with a blue circle, and Redchurch Street, then called Church Street is surrounded by the red oval:

Church Street

Look to the north of Church Street and you will see a dense area of streets and buildings, which looks different to the streets in the wider area.

Some of the street names should provide a clue as to the name and reputation of the area as this was the Old Nichol, a notorious area of densely populated streets and courts which was inhabited by some of the poorest people in east london.

The streets and buildings of the old Nichol were demolished in the 1890s and the Boundary Estate, which was built on the site, was opened in 1900. Newspaper reports of the opening described the old and new estates as follows:

“One most interesting feature of the Boundary Street Estate is that it has been built on the site of one of the most notorious slum districts in London. This was known as the ‘Old Nichol’, and is described minutely under the title of ‘The Jago’ by Mr. Arthur Morrison’s story ‘A Child of the Jago’.

A population of 6,004 persons were displaced under the Council’s scheme, and the slum clearance revealed a pitiful state of things. In two common lodging houses, 163 people were found to be living. 2,118 people were living in 752 single rooms, and 2,265 in 506 two-roomed tenements. The inhabitants consisted of the poorest classes of unskilled labourers, and in addition to large numbers of button makers, box-makers, charwomen, worker-women and so-called ‘dealers’, included some of the vilest characters in London.

In one small street alone there lived no fewer than twenty ticket-of-leave men. (see below for explanation) These people were transferred to other districts. Of the inhabitants of the ‘Old Nichol’, those who are new tenants on the Boundary Street Estate can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. The present occupants of the dwellings are mainly of the better classes, policemen, postmen, commissionaires, together with a few clergymen, schoolmasters, and Church workers”.

A ticket-of-leave man was a person who had been released from prison on parole, and the ticket-of-leave was the document handed to the person, documenting their status on parole.

The Boundary Estate was opened by the Prince of Wales in March 1900, and we can jump forward to the 1948 revision of the OS map to see the new estate, with the central circular feature of Arnold Circus, with new streets radiating out from the circus (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“).

Boundary Estate

In the above map, I have again marked the location of the toilets by the blue circle, and the Dolphin pub by the red circle.

So far, so good, I then went to the 1898 revision of the OS map, which resulted in a bit of a mystery (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“).

Old Nichol

In the above map, I have marked the location of the toilets with the blue circle, however to the left, the entire area north of Redchurch Street is shown as blank space, presumably the area demolished ready for the construction of the Boundary Estate.

The strange thing is that the Boundary Estate does not reach all the way down to Redchurch Street, and the Dolphin on the north side of the street had been built a few decades before the above map, and was still in use during the 1890s.

I checked the 1895 edition of the Post Office Directory, and it lists the Dolphin at number 85, along with a full range of businesses along the northern side of the street, including James Julier Fried Fish Shop at number 19, William Padley’s Dining Rooms at number 29, Nathan Bloom, Cabinet Maker at number 53 and Joseph Barker, Undertaker at number 71.

So the northern side of Church Street in 1895 had a full range of businesses, however in the OS map of three years later, the northern side of the street has disappeared, and is the lower boundary of the Old Nichol, that was in the process of being rebuilt as the Boundary Estate.

There were three years between the Post Office Directory and the OS map, and the streets on the northern side could have been demolished in those three years, however the Dolphin demonstrates this probably did not happen, and looking at the 1948 revision of the map shown above, the northern side of Church Street has the same layout of buildings as could be expected from the 1895 directory. It is very clearly not part of the Boundary Estate.

There is another PH for public house on the 1898 map on the north side of Church Street. This was the Black Dog pub, which although long closed, the original building can still be seen.

Whether the OS map shows a more extended area originally planned for rebuild, which was reduced during the development stage, or whether it was simply an error of mapping, it is unusual to find such a significant error in OS maps.

Redchurch Street / Church Street is a very old street. It is the core of the Redchurch Street Conservation Area as defined by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Their conservation area document also helps confirm that the northern side of the street was not demolished as part of the Boundary Street Estate.

To illustrate the age of the street, the following is an extract from Rocque’s 1746 map of London:

Bethnal Green Road

The future Bethnal Green Road is to the right. Church Street is within the red oval, however this part of the street is now part of Bethnal Green Road, which today turns a little south, below New Cock Lane and Cock Lane (within the yellow oval), which today is Redchurch Street.

When the extension to Bethnal Green was built, New Cock Lane seems to have changed name to Church Street, and the junction in the 1980s photo is where Bethnal Green Road and the old New Cock Lane diverged.

The change of name from Church Street to Redchurch Street took place at some point in the first half of the 20th century.

It was still Church Street in 1911, where in the census, James Cooper is listed as the Licensed Victuallier of the Dolphin pub, along with his wife Mary, and his sister-in-law Emma Bass who was listed as a General Help.

In the 1921 census, the street is still Church Street, and Cornelia John Alfred was the landlord, living in the Dolphin with his wife Leah.

So the name change seems to have taken place between 1921 and the 1948 OS map.

According to the Tower Hamlets Conservation Statement, the name Redchurch Street comes from the church of St. James the Great which is strange as the church is a reasonable distance east along Bethnal Green Road. The church was the first red brick church in the area when built around 1840, and seems to have given the description of the church to the name of the street. the church closed in the 1980s and is now housing.

The story of the Old Nichol and the Boundary Estate to the north of Redchurch Street is fascinating, and has been on my very long list of subjects for a blog post, however if you would like to read more about the Old Nichol, I can thoroughly recommend “The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum” by Sarah Wise.

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Two Pubs and the Jesus Hospital Estate

Following last week’s post, I am staying in Bethnal Green, and after finding Ron’s Gents Hairdressers, I walked to find the location of the Queen Victoria pub and the Jesus Hospital Estate. The decorative features at the top of the Queen Victoria was the subject of one of my father’s 1980s photos:

Queen Victoria, Jesus Hospital Estate

When I found the pub, it was covered in scaffolding, and whilst the royal coat of arms at the top of the pub are still there, they had been painted white:

Queen Victoria, Jesus Hospital Estate

Unfortunately, my father did not take a photo of the whole pub building. I suspect due to the limited number of photos available when using a film camera. The pub today:

Queen Victoria pub, Barnet Grove

The Queen Victoria is on the corner of Barnet Grove and Wellington Row, a short walk north from Bethnal Green Road towards Columbia Road.

The pub has suffered the fate of so many pubs across London in that it has been converted to residential. The Queen Victoria closed as a pub in 1993.

I have mentioned a number of times in my posts about just how many pubs there were in London prior to the closures that started slowly after the 1940s, and accelerated quickly from the late 1980s onwards, and the location of the Queen Victoria is a prime example, as directly opposite, there was another pub:

Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria pubs, Barnet Grove

In the above photo, the Queen Victoria is on the right and the Prince of Wales is on the left, with Barnet Grove passing between them.

The Prince of Wales closed in 1995, and as with the Queen Victoria, it was converted to residential. Whilst the Prince of Wales has the pub’s name at the top of the corner of the building, there are no coat of arms:

Prince of Wales, Jesus Hospital Estate

The pub did once have the impressive arms of the Prince of Wales, as can be seen in the photo at this link from the alamy stock image site.

The building today is a shadow of its former self. I suspect the arms at the top of the pub were missing in the 1980s as I am sure my father would have taken a photo of them, as well as the Queen Victoria.

Both pubs seem to have opened in the late 1860s, and in the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette on the 28th of May, 1870, the new owner of the Prince of Wales was advertising:

“THE NEW Wine and Spirit Establishment, Conducted by the old caterer for public favour, C.H. Davies, of the ‘Prince of Wales, Barnet-Grove’, who begs to call attention of his friends and the public to his new premises replete with every comfort for the gentleman and mechanic, also to families who can be supplied with every article of the finest description including MALT LIQUOR, from the eminent Brewers of the day; SPIRITS (both foreign and British) of the highest strength and excellence, and WINES of the rarest vintage. Special arrangements have been entered into with the celebrated firm of Messrs. REID & Co. for a constant supply of their Splendid STOUT and PORTER.

Extensive and Commodious Rooms for large or small parties.

An Harmonic Meeting every Tuesday Evening at eight o’clock for gentlemen. An early visit is respectfully solicited.”

By 1907 a W. Tozer was the owner of the Prince of Wales, as in the Eastern Argus and Hackney Times he was thanking “the residents of the district and the public generally for the patronage they have accorded him since he took the proprietorship off this well known and old-established tavern 3 years ago.”

In the same article, it was mentioned that “The United Order of Druids, Baroness Burdett-Coutts Lodge (No. 948) meets at the house on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday in the month.”

The United Order of Druids was more of a fraternal and benefit society, and was open to all classes. I doubt there was much wandering around the streets of Bethnal Green in white gowns.

The branch that met in the Prince of Wales was the Burdett-Coutts Lodge. The lodge was named after Angela Burdett-Coutts, a remarkable women who was known as the wealthiest woman in the country after she inherited a fortune from her maternal grandfather Thomas Coutts, of Coutts Bank.

Angela Burdett-Coutts was a philanthropist who supported a diverse range of projects and causes. The link between the lodge that met in the Prince of Wales and Burdett-Coutts may have come from her charitable activities in the area with social housing and her founding of Columbia Market in 1869.

There are very few newspaper references to the Queen Victoria. Mostly licence changes, and in one report about an “Exciting Quoits Match”, the pub is named as the Queen Victoria Hotel, when a Mr Sayer, who appears to have been their champion Quoits player, was being challenged by Copeman and Wilstead, for £5.

The challenge was to take place on neutral territory at the May Pole in Chigwell. (Quoits is the game where a ring of iron or rope is thrown in an attempt to land it around a peg).

That there were two pubs directly opposite each other (as well as other pubs in the local area), shows the population density in this part of Bethnal Green. One of the reports mentioning the Prince of Wales covered above, may hint at the diverse range of people who lived here where the pub was advertised as having “every comfort for the gentleman and mechanic“.

In the following map, I have marked the locations of the Queen Victoria (red circle) and Prince of Wales (blue circle), and the surrounding streets show a dense network of terrace houses  ( © OpenStreetMap contributors:

Jesus Hospital Estate

Walking north along Barnet Grove, and continuing after the Prince of Wales pub is a short terrace which still retains the shop fronts, when as well as local pubs, this street also had local shops to serve those who lived in the surrounding streets:

Jesus Hospital Estate

The title of this post is “Two Pubs and the Jesus Hospital Estate”, and I have covered the two pubs, but what about the Jesus Hospital Estate?

As a starter, the two pubs are on the southern edge of the “Jesus Hospital Conservation Area”, and I have marked the approximate boundary of the conservation area in the following map  ( © OpenStreetMap contributors:

Jesus Hospital Estate

The area covered by the current conservation area has changed slightly over the years, however it started as an estate in the 17th century when the land was owned by James Ravenscroft in 1670. At that time, this was, as much of Bethnal Green still was, fields and farm land.

In 1679, James Ravenscroft founded the Jesus Hospital Charity in Barnet, Hertfordshire, and he bestowed the land in Bethnal Green to the charity.

The aims of the Jesus Hospital Charity were to provide for the support and maintenance of lady residents living in Ravenscroft Cottages in Wood Street, Barnet.

The charity is still in operation and has expanded the number of properties it owns in Barnet, and now “provides 63 unfurnished dwellings for ladies aged 50 plus, who reside alone and are fit and able to care for themselves”.

James Ravencroft’s son, George, made his name in the manufacture of lead crystal glass. He was primarily a merchant and came into contact with the glass trade after living for a couple of years in Venice.

On his return to London, he set up a glass works in the area of the Savoy, however he left the glass business in 1679, the same year as his father set-up the Jesus Hospital Charity. His father died the following year in 1680 and George died in 1683.

They were both Roman Catholics which, in the final decades of the 17th century, may not have made the family very popular.

In the early 19th century, the land was still being leased from the charity by farmers, and there had been very little change for the past 150 years, however limited building work did commence in the 1820s and 1830s.

One of the problems with the land in Bethnal Green was that it was some distance (given travel options at the time), from the trustees of the charity in Barnett. The trustees rarely visited. I assume they were happy as long as the money from leasing the land continued to flow to fund the charity’s responsibilities.

During a visit, the trustees found that the land had been developed with very poorly constructed, single storey houses, and that many were in a very dilapated condition. The streets in the area were also in a poor state, as were the sewers.

In 1862, a London surveyor based in Bishopsgate, by the name of George Clarkson was appointed to manage the redevelopment of the charity’s land.

The whole area of the Jesus Hospital Estate was cleared of the original buildings, new sewers were built along with new streets, and a total of 372 houses were built, as well as a number of pubs, including the Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales.

It is these houses that we see when we walk the streets today.

Another old corner shop on the corner of Barnet Grove and Elwin Street:

Barnet Grove

View along Elwin Street, showing a continuous line of almost identical terrace houses:

Elwin Street

With an almost mirror image along Quilter Street, although along this street there is a slight descent in the height of the land, which is accommodated for along the terrace by a step change in height as the terrace progresses, which can be best seen by the white bar that runs along the terrace just below the first floor windows:

Quilter Street

Along the street there are a couple of houses which have pipes set into the wall, with LCC which I assume is for London County Council:

LCC

An example of which rises several feet above street level to a vent:

LCC

The London County Council never owned the houses along the street, but they would have taken responsibility for the sewers, so I wonder if they were installed as part of upgrades to the sewage system, or the Jesus Hospital Charity paid the LCC for drainage work to the houses.

In 1970, the Greater London Council served a compulsory purchase order on the land owned by the Jesus Hospital Charity. The GLC intended to demolish the estate, and there were plans to construct a large road through the area to link Victoria Park with the City.

There were ten years of legal negotiations between the GLC and the charity, and the estate was finally sold to the GLC in 1980 for a sum of £1.2 million.

Proposals for demolition were abandoned as there were many objections, including from the Jesus Hospital Estate Residents Associations which was formed in 1979 to fight against the GLC’s plans.

The Jesus Hospital Estate is today described by Estate Agents as a highly desirable place to live, and to show the incredible rise in house prices in this part of east London, in 1980 the charity sold the whole estate to the GLC for £1.2 million. Today, there is a single terrace house in Barnet Grove for sale, also for £1.2 million, so the sum you could have purchased the whole estate for in 1980 now buys you a single terrace house.

One of the reasons for the Estate Agents description of the area is that there is a large triangular green almost at the centre of the estate:

Jesus Green

This is Jesus Green, but it was not part of the original 1860s development, when the 19th century approach was to pack as many terrace houses into the area as possible.

In the 1949 revision of the OS map, the area covered by Jesus Green today, is shown as a dense area of terrace houses, with an archway under one the houses in Barnet Grove leading into a central courtyard which housed a number of workshops (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Jesus Hospital Estate

I cannot find an exact date, or reason for the demolition, however I believe the houses in this central triangle, outlined in red in the above map, were demolished in the 1970s. The LCC Bomb Damage maps show that this central area was almost untouched, so whether demolition was part of the GLC’s rebuilding plans, or for some other reason, I do not know.

I assume that after plans for demolition, road building and redevelopment were abandoned, the central area was turned into the green space it is today.

We can get an idea of what the streets surrounding the central gardens looked like before the houses in the centre were demolished.

The photo below is the view looking east along Quilter Street from Barnet Grove. There are terrace houses along both sides of the street. Quilter Street continued behind where I was standing to take the photo, but today, the central gardens are on one side and terrace houses on the other.

Quilter Street

The name of the open space, Jesus Gardens is a reminder of the charity that owned the land for around 300 years. There are also a number of other reminders in the street names, for example;

Barnet Grove is obviously a reference to Barnet in Hertfordshire, where the charity was based, and where money generated by leasing the land in Bethnal Green was used to fund the homes for women. Barnet Grove predates the 1860s redevelopment so is one of the oldest streets, and street names in the estate.

Quilter Street is named after James Quilter, a solicitor, who was one of the charity trustees, during the 1860s redevelopment of the estate.

Elwin Street was named after the Reverend T.H Elwin, who was the Chairman of the charity at the time of the redevelopment.

The earlier pub advert referred to “the gentleman and mechanic”, so I had a look in the 1921 census to see who was living in Quilter Street, one of the streets of the Jesus Hospital Estate. A very brief sample:

  • At number 34 was Philip Samuel Hurman, aged 45 and listed as a French Polisher for Bradstad Brothers Pianoforte Manufacturer, along with his wife Esther (45), his son Philip Samuel (21) a Carman for Saunders & Nephew Provision Merchants, a daughter Jane (19) who was a Trousers Machinist for Lockwood & Bradley Wholesale Tailors, and a daughter Ivy Lilian (15) who was a Card Board Box Maker for Wright Brothers, Box Manufacturers
  • At number 47 was Frederick Tayor, aged 66, a retired Brewers Cellarman, along with his three daughters, Emily (34), Ellen (32) and Amy (28) who were all Tie Makers, working for J. Paterson.
  • At number 64 was Charles Moore, aged 40, an out of work cabinet maker. He was living in the house with his wife Emily (45), daughters Emily (20) and Rhoda (15) who were both listed as a Tailoress for Rego Clothing Company, and his son James (18) who was a Labourer for a Mr. Loveday, Glass Silverer
  • At number 90 was Wallace Henry Norris (32) who was a Carman for J.E. Read, Carman & Contractor, along with his wife Elizabeth (28) listed as having Home Duties, and their one year old daughter Ada May. There were also three sons aged 14 and below. the 14 year old son was listed as just having left school.

A very small sample of the thousands who lived in the streets of the estate, but they are typical of all I looked at. Manual workers, employed from a young age and the majority working in one of the very many manufacturing industries that were to be found around Bethnal Green in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Jesus Hospital Estate is a fascinating area, away from the bustle of Bethnal Green Road and Columbia Road, an estate which owes its existence to a charity in Barnet, Hertfordshire, and an estate that narrowly avoided full demolition by the GLC in the 1970s.

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In Search Of Peckham Pubs

For today’s post, I am back in Peckham, in search of some Peckham pubs. There was a problem with the emailing out to subscribers last Sunday, so sorry if you did not receive the post on Macs Pie and Mash in Peckham. If you want to catch up, the post can be found here.

I am really grateful to some of the feedback to the post which included references to Macs Pie and Mash in a Museum of London book titled ‘Eels, Pie & Mash’, which includes the following reference to Macs: “This shop was previously a launderette until Mary and Roy Brannan took it over in 1976 and called it Simple Simon’s after the children’s nursery rhyme.”

As well as the pie and mash shop, there were a number of other photos of Peckham taken by my father in 1986, which I have not been able to identify, although one photo was easy:

Peckham Pubs, the Greyhound

This is on the Greyhound pub on Peckham High Street. The Greyhound is a corner pub and has one of the visual decorations, representative of the name of the pub, on the roof line at the corner.

There were, and still are, a number of this type of pub decorations across London. I have photographed many of them ready for a blog post, but still have a few more to visit.

After finding the location of the pie and mash shop, I walked north along Rye Lane in the direction of Peckham High Street to find the Greyhound. It was a sunny day when my father took the Peckham photos, however with the demands of a weekly blog I have to visit places when I can, and when the weather is not so good, so I was in Peckham on a grey, January day, however some of the shops in Rye Lane do a good job of adding colour to a grey, flat light:

Rye Lane

Peckham, in common with most other places in London, once had a very large number of pubs. Many of these were still hanging on in the 1980s and 1990s, but the first couple of decades of the 21st century have seen their number decline dramatically.

Local demographic changes, competition from a considerably increased range of eating and drinking places, cost pressures, etc. have all contributed to the closure of so many pubs.

When a pub closes, they are often demolished, or converted to alternative uses. Where the building remains, it leaves a reminder of the social and cultural history of these local institutions, and I found a number of these in Peckham, starting with:

The Hope, Rye Lane

Peckham Pubs, the Hope

The Hope has now been replaced by a Paddy Power betting shop. The name of the pub can still be seen at the top of the façade, along with some of the original decoration below the first floor windows.

The name of the pub, and vertical decoration between the windows of the first floor were originally the same golden colour as the decoration below the windows.

The Hope closed around 2010, when Paddy Power took over the ground floor.

I cannot find exactly how old the pub was, however I did find an intriguing reference in the Morning Advertiser on the 1st of June 1848 which may indicate the age and origins of the pub and the pub name:

“To be LET, TWO good BEER and ALE HOUSES situated on the outskirts of London, doing 20 barrels per month, besides a good rub in tea, coffee, cooked meat, &c – rents all let off, and both free – price £100, or at valuation. Satisfactory reason will be given by applying at 2, Church Lane, Whitechapel; or Mr. Hope, Greengrocer, Rye-lane, Peckham.”

Unfortunately there is no address given for the two good beer and ale houses on the outskirts of London, however the contact details are for a Mr. Hope in Rye Lane.

There is no way I can confirm this given limited research time, and perhaps I am clutching at straws, however perhaps the beer and ale houses were owned by Mr. Hope of Rye Lane, and perhaps he gave his name to one of them.

The South London Observer provided a good source of all the usual reports of happenings in a 19th and 20th century pub, and an interesting theme was the creative advertising for the Hope when a Mr. George Crump was the landlord from around 1916 to the late 1920s. Some examples:

9th December 1916: “PECKHAM’S NOTED BEER AND WINE HOUSE, THE HOPE, 66, RYE LANE. Mr. George Crump begs to inform the residents of Peckham and elsewhere that he is still supplying the best of everything in Wines, Ales etc.”

2nd of June, 1917: “IMPORTANT NOTICE – The restricted output of beer in no way effects the supply at THE HOPE, RYE LANE, PECKHAM, where Mr. George Crump is still providing the finest Mild Ale and Porter at 4d per half-pint for consumption on the premises only. Cellars always well stocked. Noted house for wines.”

George Crump also seems to have been a bit of a composer:

13th March 1926: “GET THAT SUNSHINE FEELING AND VISIT ‘THE HOPE’ RYE LANE, PECKHAM, where you can see an excellent portrait of GEORGE W. CRUMP by that talented artist Lydia Dreams of ‘Popularity’ fame. GET THAT SUNSHINE FEELING, by George Crump and Joe Archer, sung with immense success by Miss Kitty Collier.”

Lydia Dreams was an artist who had a male persona of Walter H Lambert for some of her paintings, one of which, as the above report confirms, was called “Popularity”. This was a remarkable portrait of many of the music hall artists of the early 20th century, where they are shown, crowded together at Lower Marsh and Waterloo Road.

The painting is apparently held by the Museum of London, however the site dedicated to Arthur Lloyd has a copy online here. No idea what happened to the portrait of Mr. George Crump.

His creative advertising for the Hope pub continues:

18th December 1926: “Prepare for the Festive Season. If you want a Really Merry Christmas you must not fail to have your stock of wines. Mr. Geo. Crump of THE HOPE, RYE LANE, is now offering 5,000 bottles of fine DRURO PORT from 2/9 a bottle.”

22nd December 1928: “THE HOPE, RYE LANE, PECKHAM. Truman, Hanbury and Buxton’s Sparkling Ales. Guinness and Bass always in fine condition. Wines from the Wood and in bottle, of the finest quality.

Specialty Douro port from 3/6 per bottle. Cockburn’s. Sandeman’s, Dow’s etc.”

The above advert concluded with the following wonderful rhyme:

“If you’re feeling alone and there’s no one at home, Don’t get the blues or be snappy, But stroll down the Lane in sunshine or rain, Call in The Hope and be happy.”

George Crump seems to have been the landlord of the Hope for around 18 years, as I found a report on the death of Mrs. S. Crump, who must have been his wife:

16th September 1954: “Mrs. S. Crump. A woman who had served the Peckham public house behind the bar of the Hope, Rye-lane for 18 years, died at the Beer and Wine Trade Benevolent Society Homes. Nunhead, aged 82.

Mrs. Susanna Crump, born at Bethnal Green, had spent 40 years in the district. She was very fond of cats and had pictures and ornaments of them all round her little rooms.”

“Chief mourners at Forest Hill included Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Crump of the Bricklayers Arms , Kender Street, New Cross.”

I suspect that one of the chief mourners, Mr. G.C. Crump was George and Susanna Crump’s son as he had the same first initial as the father. He is noted as being of the Bricklayers Arms in New Cross. I have found multiple family generations in the profession of landlord was common in many London pubs.

A short distance along Rye Lane is Rye Lane Chapel. Obviously not a pub, but an institution catering to the more spiritual needs of the local population:

Rye Lane Chapel

The current building dates from 1863 when it replaced the original chapel which had been demolished to make way for Rye Lane Station. The memorial stone of the original 1819 chapel was retained and is now below the pillar on the left of the entrance. The chapel was very badly damaged by bombing in 1943, but was rebuilt and reopened five years later.

Back to Peckham pubs, and at the northern end of Rye Lane, is the junction with Peckham High Street. Directly opposite is an open pub:

The Kentish Drovers

Peckham Pubs, the Kenitish Drovers

The Kentish Drovers is an old pub, but not the one in the above photo. The current location of the Kentish Drovers was originally a bank, and the pub is now a Wetherspoon’s. It was originally on the opposite side of Peckham High Street, in an area which unfortunately was covered by a very large advertising hoarding so I have no idea if any of the original pub building remains.

The earliest reference I found to the Kentish Drovers was from the Morning Chronicle on the 4th of November, 1805, when the leasehold of a cottage was being offered for sale at an auction at “Mr. Mills’s, the Kentish Drovers, Peckham.”

The description of the cottage is an interesting snapshot of Peckham at the start of the 19th century as it was a “small cottage, with garden and forecourt, pleasantly situated in the orchard.”

Peckham was still very rural at the time of the sale of the cottage, and although this was just over 50 years earlier, Rocque’s map shows that Peckham was very rural at the time:

1746 Rocque map of Peckham

I have marked Rye Lane, as in 1746 it was called South Street, presumably as it led south from the large junction at the northern end of the street, where there is an open space at the junction with Peckham High Street and Peckham Hill Street.

There were a large number of pubs around this road junction, and I have marked the location of the Greyhound, on the corner of Peckham High Street and Peckham Hill Street:

The Greyhound

Peckham Pubs, the Greyhound

it is good to see that the Greyhound still has the decoration at the top corner of the building, although today it is a rather plain black and white, unlike the colourful decoration in the 1986 photo.

I was hoping the Greyhound would be open as apparently the four bay Victorian bar back fitting remains, which includes a painting of a greyhound, and the name of the pub in gold mosaic.

I cannot find exactly how old the Greyhound is, the earliest mention being a series of adverts in 1821 for an auction, where catalogues could be collected from the Greyhound, Peckham. The pub today looks to be of later 19th century construction, and given the location of the pub at a major cross roads, I suspect there was a pub here for some years before the current building.

Pubs tend to be associated with beer drinking, but in many pubs the emphasis seems to have been on spirits.

When Mr. R. Phillips took over the Greyhound in 1904 he placed an advert in the South London Observer, where he advertised that he was a “Wine and Spirit Merchant”, and that at the pub, the residents of Peckham could purchase “Special blends of Scotch and Irish Whiskies”, and that he was an “Importer and Bonder of Foreign Wines and Liqueur Brandies”.

On the opposite side of Peckham High Street, is another pub;

The Bun House

Peckham Pubs, the Bun House

The Bun House has a large sign between the second floor windows with the name of the pub, the date, circa 1898, and the brewery name Courage.

As with the Hope pub, it is now closed (January 2012), with the ground floor being occupied by a betting shop.

The date on the building is 1898, which I assume refers to the current building. I suspect that given the location of the pub, there was an earlier version of the Bun House on the same site. Multiple references to the pub call it Ye Olde Bun House, implying that it was of some age, although perhaps this was just a bit of clever marketing.

I cannot find a source for the name. An earlier landlord for the pub was also a sweet seller, so perhaps it was down to the multiple trades that early pubs were often involved with, selling sweets, buns and alcohol, but again this is pure speculation.

As with the Hope, the Bun House had a long connection with one family, as this report from the South London Observer explains:

30th June 1960: “No more a Deveson behind the bar at Ye Olde Bun House – For 46 years, Ye Olde Bun House, Peckham High Street, has had a Deveson in charge. Next Tuesday, the family connection will be severed when the present licensee, Harry, retires from the trade. Harry, now 50, has been licensee at the Bun House, a wine and spirits house since 1930. The inn was established 62 years ago, rebuilt in 1900, and modernised just before World War II.

Mr Deveson took over in 1930 when his father retired, after being the licensee there from 1914. The Devesons have been gradually leaving the public house business – they once had four premises in South London.

Said Sam Lamb, barman at the Bun House since 1944; ‘I don’t know what I shall do when Mr. Deveson leaves. He has been a good friend’.

What will Mr. Deveson do when he leaves? First of all I’ll have a long rest’ he said ‘I am going to live in Kent so I’ll have plenty of fresh air. I shall miss the company at the Bun House.”

I think I found the report on the death of the original Deveson who retired in 1930:

8th September 1944: “The cremation took place yesterday at Honor Oak of Mr. George Ernest Deveson of East Dulwich, a former licensee of Ye Olde Bun House, Peckham High Street, for 30 years, who died on Saturday. He leaves a widow and six children.

One son, Mr. William E. Deveson is the licensee of The Hope, Rye Lane, Peckham and the Princess of Wales, Elephant and Castle, and another son, Mr. F.H. Deveson is now the landlord of Ye Olde Bun House and also of the Foresters Arms, Nunhead.”

Again, an example of both the landlord trade passing through generations, and the wider family running multiple south London pubs, including the Hope in nearby Rye Lane.

One of the first references I could find to the pub was the following report, showing typical pub entertainment in late 19th century Peckham:

24th November 1894: “HODGES’ HARMONIC SOCIETY. A concert under the auspices of Hodges’ Harmonic Society was held on Thursday evening week, at the Old Bun House, High Street, Peckham, when a good company assembled to participate in the excellent programme which has been provided.”

A short distance east along Peckham High Street was:

The Red Bull

Peckham Pubs, the Red Bull

Despite having the name Red Bull, the pub now seems to be known as Barefoot Joe’s Bar, selling cocktails and craft beers. The original Red Bull closed down some years ago and had a number of uses, including retail before opening as a bar in December 2020.

Again, I suspect the Red Bull is much earlier than the current building indicates, as a Red Bull was in Peckham High Street in 1807 when it was mentioned in an advert for a property sale as a place where details of the sale could be collected. The advert shows how at the start of the 19th century, the gardens and orchards of Peckham are starting to be built on:

“A very eligible FREEHOLD ESTATE situate on the north side of the high road from Camberwell, and nearly opposite to the Old Adam and Eve, at the entrance to Peckham; consisting of four pieces of Garden Ground, principally inclosed with brick-walls, and stocked with many standard and wall-fruit trees, a most eligible spot for building upon, having a frontage next the road of 325 feet.”

The Adam and Eve pub mentioned in the advert was to the west of the pubs covered in this post, at 14 Peckham High Street. The building is still there, although the pub has closed.

As the first decades of the 19th century passed, London would cover the fields and integrate what was the village of Peckham into the continuous built environment of south London.

One final pub in this little cluster of pubs around the junction in Peckham High Street:

The Crown

The Crown

The final pub in my initial exploration of Peckham pubs is the Crown, almost opposite the Red Bull, and the Greyhound is a very short distance to the left of the above photo, so with the Bun House and the Kentish Drovers, there were five pubs clustered around this road junction in Peckham High Street.

The size of the pubs also gives some indication that these were expected to be financially successful businesses.

Whilst the building that the Crown once occupied looks to be of the later part of the 19th century, there was a much older pub here, and a reference to the Crown dating to 1774 is the earliest of any of the references to Peckham pubs.

In September 1774, a Mr. Pittit of the Crown in Peckham wrote a letter to a number of newspapers telling of the benefits of a new elixir.

I suspect that the majority, if not all of the pubs covered in this post are much older than the buildings that remain. This was a significant junction of roads in the early village of Peckham, and would have been the obvious place for pubs, not just to serve local residents, but also for those travelling through the village.

The Crown has some interesting newspaper references, including one where the owner was fined for breaching a key wartime law:

6th December 1940: “Black-out fine at Lambeth on Saturday: Miss Rose Miller, the Crown, Peckham High Street, 15s.

As was common practice when a new landlord took over a pub, they would advertise in the local papers, always with an emphasis on the quality of their stock:

3rd August 1895: “HENRY S. ROCKE, (Late of the PRINCE ALFRED, 267, Walworth Road). Wine and Spirit Merchant, Importer and Bonder, has purchased THE CROWN, HIGH STREET PECKHAM. Only the best Articles kept on the Premises.”

And perhaps one of Henry Rocke’s business initiatives was to sell Christmas hampers, which he advertised soon after taking over the pub:

2nd October 1895: “Christmas Half-Guinea Hamper, containing bottles of Fine Brandy or Whisky, Best Gin, Jamaica Rum, Old Port, Pale Sherry, and a packet of Best Tea.”

That is six Peckham pubs. The Greyhound looks to be still open. The Kentish Drovers has moved to the opposite side of the road, the rest are closed.

There are many more pubs in Peckham, some open, many closed, but I will save them for another post later in the year. I am pleased to have found the Greyhound and to confirm that the relief at the top of the building is still there, although not so colourful.

alondoninheritance.com

The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead

Thanks for all the feedback to last week’s series of posts on Eleanor of Castile – very much appreciated. A very different post today, as I am visiting the site of one of my father’s photos, and this is of the Spaniards Inn in Hampstead, photographed in 1948:

The Spaniards Inn

I had to be in Hampstead last week, so used the opportunity to cross this one off my list of my father’s photos to visit, however it was a misty, autumn day. I waited for much longer than the weather forecast predicted it would take for the mist to disappear, and finally had to take a misty comparison photo before I had to leave, so this is the same view today, a misty Spaniards Inn in 2022:

The Spaniards Inn

Different weather, different perspective due to very different cameras, and colour vs. black and white, however, look past that and the two views are almost identical across 74 years.

Even the small triangular pavement between the two car park entrances is still the same. The cars approaching along the road from behind the pub are though very different.

The Spaniards is a very old pub, believed to date back to the 16th century.

As with any pub of such age, there are plenty of stories about the pub, many of which have been repeated in newspapers and books for at least the last 150 years, so may well have a grain of truth.

Regarding the name, I have read two different accounts, firstly that there may have been two Spanish owners of the pub, who killed each other in a duel, secondly, that the pub was named after the Spanish Ambassador to James II.

There are stories that the highwayman Dick Turpin used the pub, and kept his horse in one of the buildings.

What does seem to be true is that the pub played a role in the Gordon Riots. This was in June 1780 when there were violent anti-Catholic riots in London. At the time, Kenwood House, not far from the Spaniards, was the home of the Earl of Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice. He was rumoured to have pro-Catholic sympathies, so the rioters set out from central London with the intention of burning down Mansfield’s Kenwood House.

The rioters stopped in the large gardens of the Spaniards Inn, and the landlord, along with the Earl of Mansfield’s steward gave the rioters large amount of drink, which gave them time to summon soldiers, and by the time they arrived, the rioters were in no fit state to resist.

The Spaniards Inn also features in Dickens’ book, Pickwick papers where Mrs. Bardell and her friends take the Hampstead Stage to the Spaniards Tea Gardens. The Inn is also mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where the vampire hunter Van Helsing, after having supper in Jack Straws Castle, then: “By good chance we got a cab near the “Spaniards,” and drove to town.”

Many of the literary and artistic inhabitants of, and visitors to Hampstead are believed to have visited the Spaniards Inn, including Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hogarth and Constable.

I walked to the Spaniards Inn from Hampstead, firstly walking up to Spaniards Road, where there is one of type of street signs that can be found across Hampstead, which also has a pointing hand symbol indicating the direction to Highgate.

Spaniards Road

The road between Hampstead and Highgate runs along the north and north-western borders of the heath, and the Spaniards Inn can be found at roughly the half way point along the heath’s border. Spaniards Road runs up to the inn, and soon after the road changes name to Hampstead Lane – one of the indicators that the inn has long formed a boundary between Hampstead and Highgate.

The location of the Spaniards Inn is circled in the following map (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

The Spaniards Inn

My father’s photo shows the corner of the Spaniards Inn directly on the road, with a car just coming from behind the pub. To discover why the inn is at such a historic location, we need to zoom out to a wider view of the road that runs to the side of the inn:

The Spaniards Inn

As the road passes the Spaniards Inn, it narrows and bends around the corner of the inn. On the opposite side of the road is a small square building.

This point in the road was the location of a toll gate, and travelers had to pay a toll when passing along the road in the direction of Highgate, as the land to the west of the tollgate was owned by the Bishops of London.

The square building on the opposite side of the road was the 18th century toll gate house.

The Spaniards Inn and the toll gate feature in John Rocque’s 1746 map of London.

In the following extract, I have circled the location of the inn and the gate:

Location of the toll gate

I love the detail that can be found in Rocque’s maps. In the map below, I have zoomed in on the location of the inn and the toll gate. Where the toll gate is located, there is a dotted line across the street (see red arrow), which I assume is a representation of the gate that would have barred the street to allow collection of tolls.

Location of the toll gate

The name Spaniards Gate can be seen above, implying that the gate took the name from the inn. one interesting feature is the way the road is represented on either side of the toll gate. To the right of the toll gate is the Bishop of London’s land. The road looks wider and more defined. To the left of the gate, the road is narrow and seems more like a track.

The toll was collected when you travelled into the Bishops of London land, moving left to right in the above map, and when you passed through the gate, you also started to travel on better roads. Even today, the road widens soon after passing the toll gate heading to the east.

The following print from around 1840 shows a very similar scene to today, although the road and traffic along the road are very different  (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

The Spaniards Inn

As the road between Hampstead and Highgate passes the Spaniards Inn, traffic has to slow as there is not really enough space for two cars to pass through the gap.

The road is a busy road with an almost continuous stream of traffic. It took a while to get some reasonably traffic free photos.

it is remarkable that the toll gate house, and the narrow width of the road has remained as traffic has increased. There have been a number of attempts to remove the toll gate house, and widen the road, for example, one hundred years ago, the Hampstead and St John’s Wood Advertiser on the 14th of December 1922 reported that:

“The proposal to widen the road where it forms a sort of bottle-neck by the Spaniards Inn at the Highgate end of Hampstead Heath, if carried out, would probably mean a destruction of the famous old tavern, and the little brick building that stands opposite to it, on the Kenwood side of the road. In spite of the great volume of traffic on the Spaniards-road itself, on high days and holidays, it is not really a main thoroughfare to anywhere.”

The 1922 proposal to widen the road did not make any progress, and almost 40 years later, in 1961 there was another attempt, as reported in the Hampstead News, Golders Green Gazette and Journal on the 27th of January 1961:

“Tollhouse: Council Must Act – The L.C.C.’s proposed demolition of the Tollhouse at the Spaniards Inn, Hampstead Heath, for road improvements was brought to a head at a meeting of the Hampstead Borough Council at the town hall last night.

Cllr. Richard Butterfield asked the council to approve a motion opposing the demolition because of the historical association and usefulness in helping the traffic problem. He asked that copies of the resolution be sent to the L.C.C., other local authorities involved, local Members of Parliament, and to the Minister of Transport.”

The future of the toll gate even reached the House of Lords when a question was put to the Government on the 2nd of February 1966. Lord Colwyn obviously wanted the toll gate demolished and asked the following question:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will arrange for the removal of the obstruction at the Spaniard’s Inn, Hampstead Lane.”

Lord Lindgren, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Power replied – “My Lords, I presume that the noble Lord is referring to the old toll gate opposite the Spaniard’s Inn. Her Majesty’s Government have no powers to arrange for its removal. This is a problem essentially for the Greater London Council and the London Boroughs of Barnet and Camden, as the local authorities concerned, and I understand that they will be discussing it soon.”

Lord Colwyn wanted some action, as he replied – “My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much for his Answer. May I ask whether he would get in touch with the Camden Council and the Barnet Council with a view to moving this obstruction backwards, putting it on Hampstead Heath, or putting up traffic lights? At the moment it causes a terrific traffic block.”

Lord Colwyn was Mr. Frederick Smith. He died not long after asking the above question, and the only reason I can find for appearing to want the demolition of the toll gate was that reports of his death included that he lived in St John’s Wood to the south of Hampstead, so perhaps he travelled along Spaniards Road and felt having the narrow bend in the road was an inconvenience.

The toll gate survived both the plans of the L.C.C. and the attentions of Lord Colwyn, however it would have to wait until 1974 when it would finally be listed as a Grade II building, under the ownership and care of Camden Council.

The following photo shows the toll gate house as seen from the Hampstead side. The oval plaque on the side of the building was put up by the Heath and Hampstead Society to record the function of the building.

Toll gate house

In the above photo, a black and white bollard can be seen at the corner of the building. This was installed in 2008 to provide some protection from the traffic that passes so close to the building.

It is Grade II listed, and the Historic England listing states that the building is inspected regularly and is in good condition.

Just behind the Spaniards Inn is one of the many large buildings that can be found across Hampstead. It is a challenge to walk any distance in Hampstead and not find a blue plaque, and my walk to the Spaniards was no exception.

The building has a blue plaque at the entrance, recording that Dame Henrietta Barnett and Cannon Samuel Barnett lived in the house and that Henrietta was founder of the Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Dame Henrietta Barnett house

The Barnett’s were a married couple that had a significant impact on Hampstead, and on London. On her death in 1936, the Hampstead News dedicated a full page to her life, and the following is an introduction:

“Born 85 years ago, she dedicated herself at an early age to a life of social service. When she was 21 she married Canon S.A. Barnett, who had just been become Vicar of St. Jude’s Whitechapel. This was a very poor district affording ample scope for her unusual abilities and unbounded energy, and she at one threw herself into parish work. In 1875 she was appointed manager of the Forest Gate District School, holding this position until 1897, and from 1876 to 1898 she was honorary secretary of the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Students. During this period she found time to engage in promoting homes for workhouse and feeble-minded girls.

It was Mrs. Barnett who started the Children’s Country Holiday Fund, and in 1884 she founded the London Pupil Teachers Association, of which she was President from 1891 to 1907. She also put in much hard work as a member of the committee which formed the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

In 1883 a number of undergraduates from Oxford and Cambridge came, at the suggestion of Mrs. Barnett to live in Whitechapel during the vacations. From this Toynbee Hall developed, and Mrs. Barnett helped her husband enthusiastically in this new field. She later introduced the settlement system in America with great success.

It is, however, as the founder of the Hampstead Garden Suburb that she will be best remembered, at any rate in North West London. Her aim was to establish a healthy community in beautiful surroundings, coupled with architecture and town planning on artistic lines, in a way which did not limit these advantages to the wealthier classes. She formed the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, and building was commenced in 1907. All who live in north-west London know what the ‘suburb’ is today.”

The Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust is still in existence, and looks after the more than 5,000 properties and 880 acres of the estate.

Three buildings with some fascinating history. The Barnett’s house, the Spaniards Inn and the toll gate house, all at this historic crossing point between Hampstead and Highgate, and the original western boundary of the Bishops of London land. A boundary that can still be seen on the street today.

Hopefully, both the Spaniards Inn and the toll gate house will still mark the boundary for very many years to come.

alondoninheritance.com

Jubilee Beers

As it is the Jubilee Weekend (or rather four days), I have a Jubilee related post on both Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow’s post is one of my usual posts, with photos of previous events. For today’s post, I dug out my collection of 1977 Jubilee beers and 1981 Royal Wedding beers from the cobweb filled corner of the garage.

The late 1970s and early 1980s involved a lot of pubs. For some reason that I cannot really remember, in 1977 I collected any special Jubilee beer that I could find in pubs across London and Essex. Probably the novelty of finally being able to legally buy alcohol in a pub without any issues.

They have been boxed and stored away for the last 45 years, but I thought I would get them out for this weekend and see how many of the breweries, brewing Jubilee beer in 1977 still exist.

Young & Co – Silver Sovereign, brewed at the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth:

Silver Jubilee beer

Young’s closed the Ram brewery in 2006, and are now a pub company. Their beers were initially brewed by a joint venture with Charles Wells in Bedford, but they have since sold their share in the brewery venture.

They still have a head office in Wandsworth, close to the location of their original brewery.

Wadworths – Queen’s Ale:

Silver Jubilee beer

Wadworths are still brewing beer at their brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire, but according to their website, they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022. They had an impressive beer label in 1977.

Greene, King & Sons – Jubilee Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

Greene, King & Sons are still brewing at their brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, however again according to their website they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022.

Shepherd Neame – Silver Jubilee Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

Shepheard Neame are also still brewing at Faversham, Kent, and have produced a “Celebration Ale” for the 2022 Jubilee, however this is only available in casks in pubs rather than bottled.

Paine & Co – Silver Jubilee Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

A company that appears to have sold their pubs and brewery to a rival brewers in the 1980s. The name disappeared and the brewery would later close.

Fullers – Celebration Brew

Silver Jubilee beer

Fullers seem to have gone with a rather basic label for their Celebration Brew, although is does include a picture of a Griffin, from their Griffin brewery in Chiswick. They are still at the Chiswick brewery, however the Fullers company sold the brewery to Japanese international drinks company Asahi, and Fullers are now just a pub company with Asahi owning the brewery and producing beers under the Fullers name.

Fullers do not appear to be brewing a beer for the 2022 Jubilee.

Ridleys – Jubilee Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

Ridleys were brought by Greene King, who then closed their brewery near Chelmsford, Essex, and stopped producing the majority of beers under the Ridleys name. A rather nice silver label for their Jubilee Ale.

Morells – Celebration Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

The Morells company, along with their Oxford brewery closed in 1998.

Hall & Woodhouse – Bicentenary Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

Hall & Woodhouse appear to have ignored the 1977 Jubilee, preferring to celebrate their 200 year anniversary.

They are still in business with pubs and the same brewery in Blandford, Dorset, however as with the 1977 Jubilee, they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022.

Adnams – Royal Ale

Silver Jubilee beer

Adnams based in Southwold, Suffolk are still in operation, and producing beers from their own brewery. Unfortunately there appears to be no Jubilee Ale for 2022, although Adnams have branched out to produce Gin and Vodka as well as beers.

Royal Wedding Beers – 1981

On the same theme, the Royal Wedding in 1981 between Charles and Diana also resulted in a number of breweries producing special beers to commemorate the event.

Gibbs Mew & Co – Royal Heritage

Royal Wedding beer

Gibbs Mew & Co of Salisbury brewed a Royal Heritage beer, and their bottle featured St Paul’s Cathedral.

The company closed their Salisbury brewery in 1997 and continued as a pub chain, however the pubs and the company were sold to Enterprise Inns in 2011.

Devenish – Wedding Ale

Royal Wedding beer

Devenish was another Dorset brewery, and followed the same fate as Gibbs Mew.

Devenish closed their brewery in 1985, and continued as a pub operator until 1993 when the company was sold to Greenalls.

Berni – Royal Reception

Royal Wedding beer

If you fancied a beer in 1981 to go with your Berni Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau, then a bottle of their Royal Reception strong ale could be yours.

Berni was one of the pub / restaurant chains that would bring the experience of going out for a meal in the 1970s to the masses. Relatively cheap, good service and a simple, standard menu helped with the popularity of the chain, and the most brought meal of Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau becoming representative of eating out in the late 1970s.

Berni Inns was sold to Whitbread in 1995 who rebranded the chain to become part of the Beefeater resturants.

Brains – Prince’s Ale

Royal Wedding beer

Brains offered their Prince’s Ale in 1981. The brewery was based in Cardiff, where they are still brewing, but no special beers for the Jubilee that I can find on their website.

Fullers – Celebration Brew

Royal Wedding beer

Fullers Jubilee beer had a rather simple label, however they went with a more ornate label for their Celebration Brew to mark the 1981 Royal Wedding.

Greene King – Royal Wedding Ale

Royal Wedding beer

Greene King produced their Royal Wedding Ale. The label looks as if it was only designed at the last moment when it would have been too late to produce a more ornate label, so they went with a simple text based label.

St Austell Brewery – Prince’s Ale

Royal Wedding beer

The St Austell Brewery’s Prince’s Ale was rather unusual in that it was a Barley Wine.

Barley Wine is a type of beer, but is generally much stronger than a normal beer, probably why their bottle was smaller than the typical bottle of the time.

The St Austell Brewery is located in St Austell, Cornwall and the brewery and company are still in operation. They do have a Jubilee Beer called “Thank Brew” which apparently is part of an initiative by breweries, pubs and communities to produce a special beer for the Jubilee, and they are selling a bottled Platinum Jubilee Ale, which has a rather nice label.

J. Arkell and Sons – Royal Wedding Ale

Royal Wedding beer

Arkell’s had a rather impressive, gold label to their Royal Wedding Ale.

The company, based in Swindon is still brewing beer, but does not appear to be brewing a Jubilee beer.

Camerons – Royal Wedding Ale

Royal Wedding beer

Camerons featured a drawing of St Paul’s Cathedral on the label of their Royal Wedding Ale.

Camerons are still brewing in Hartlepool, Teeside, and whilst they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer, they have teamed up with the band Motorhead and have a Road Crew beer available both in draft and bottles.

Based on that small survey it seems that there are a very small number of beers brewed for the 2022 Jubilee, and I have not seen any on recent pub visits.

Probably brewers have to be more commercially focused these days, and the costs of producing a one off product outweigh the potential benefits.

What I did notice when revisiting all these bottles was that the labels do not show the alcohol content / ABV. If you were drinking a bottle of Berni’s Royal Reception Strong Ale, then you had no idea what strong actually meant.

The excellent Boak & Bailey site has researched the introduction of this labelling and found that it was a result of the UK implementing an EEC (European Economic Community) directive, and that labeling beers with the alcohol content became law on the 17th July, 1989.

All these 1977 Jubilee beers and 1981 Royal Wedding beers are unopened, although I very much doubt their contents are drinkable. and probably very unwise to try.

They will now be returned to a very dusty corner of the garage.

Whatever you are drinking (or not), I hope you are having a very good Jubilee four days.

alondoninheritance.com

The Champion Pub and Oxford Market

All my walking tours have sold out, with the exception of a few tickets on the Bankside to Pickle Herring Street tour. Details and booking here.

In 1980 I was wandering around London trying out a new zoom lens for my Canon AE-1 camera, taking some not very good photos. One of these was of the Champion Pub at the junction of Eastcastle Street and Wells Street, with the Post Office Tower in the background:

Champion pub

The photo was taken from the southern end of Wells Street towards Oxford Street, and a sign for Eastcastle Street can be seen on the right of the Champion pub. I think I was trying to contrast the old pub and the new telecoms tower.

A wider view of the same scene today, with the BT Tower as it is now known, starting to disappear behind the new floors being added to the building behind the Champion:

Champion pub

A closer view of the pub in 2022, 42 years after my original photo:

Champion pub

Given how many pubs have closed over the last few decades, it is really good that the Champion has survived, although it is a shame that the curved corner of the building has been painted, and it has lost the name which ran the full length of the corner of the pub.

The large ornamental cast iron lamp still decorates the corner of the building.

The curved corner to the upper floors was a key feature of many 19th century London pubs. They were meant to advertise the pub, the name could be seen from a distance on crowded streets, and the name would often give an identity to the junction of streets.

For an example of a pub which had a very colourful corner in the 1980s, and today displays the current name of the pub on the curved corner, see my post on the Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street.

The Champion is Grade II listed, and the Historic England listing details provide some background:

Corner public house. c.1860-70. Gault brick with stucco dressings, slate roof. Lively classical detailing. 4 storeys. 3 windows wide to each front and inset stuccoed quadrant corner. Ground floor has bar front with corner and side entrances and fronted bar windows framed by crude pilasters carrying entablature- fascia with richly decorated modillion cornice. Upper floors have segmental arched sash windows, those on 1st floor with keystones and marks. Heavy moulded crowning cornice and blocking stuccoed. Large ornamental cast iron lamp bracket to corner. Interior bar fittings original in part with screens etc, some renewal.

The “some renewal” statement refers to a few changes to the pub since it was built.

The first post-war renewal came in the 1950s. As with so many Victorian pubs across London, the Champion was in need of some refurbishment. Over 80 years of serving Wells Street, and open during the years of the second world war, resulted in the owners, the brewers  Barclay Perkins, engaging architect and designer John and Sylvia Reid.

The Reid’s were better known as interior, furniture and lighting designers rather than architecture, and their changes to the Champion were mainly of design.

The large Champion name down the curved corner of the pub was a result of their work. The lettering was in 30 inch Roman, and the letters were shaded to give the impression that they had been engraved rather than painted. The new name replaced a number of old wooden signs that were mounted on the corner. The corner of the pub was floodlit at night, which must have looked rather magnificent, and ensured the pub stood out if you looked down Wells Street when walking along Oxford Street.

The interior had been rather plain and was painted in what were described as drab colours.

The Reid’s divided what had been two bars to form three, added button leather seating around the edge of the bars, restored the bar and some of the original iron tables, and they added new glass windows consisting of clear glass for the upper half and frosted, acid cut glass for the lower half.

Features inside the pub included the use of mahogany panels, etched and decorated glass windows between bars, and textured paper on the ceiling. refurbishment also included the first floor dining room.

Their refresh of the Champion pub did get some criticism as there were views that it was returning to Victorian design themes. The early 1950s were a time when design and architecture were looking at more modern forms, typified in the themes and designs used for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

The early 1950s update to the pub included plain and frosted glass on the external windows, not the remarkable, stained glass windows that we see today. These are the work of Ann Sotheran, and were installed in 1989.

They feature a series of 19th century “champions”, with figures such as Florence Nightingale and the cricketer W.G. Grace.

On a sunny day, these windows are very impressive when seen from inside the bar:

Champion pub stained glass

The missionary and explorer David Livingstone:

Champion pub

Newspaper reports mentioning the Champion cover all the usual job adverts, reports of crime and theft etc., however I found one interesting article that hinted at what the inside of the pub may have been like in the 1870s.

In September 1874, the Patent Gas Economiser Company held their first annual general meeting, where they reported that they had installed 50 lights in the Champion. Seems a rather large number, but spread across three floors, entering the pub in the 1870s would have been entering a reasonably brightly lit pub, with the hiss of gas lamps and the associated smell of burning gas.

The same report also mentions that the company had installed 1000 lights at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in Regent Street, 600 lights in the German Gymnastic Society in St Pancras Road, and 50 lights in the Hotel Cavour in Leicester Square.

To the left of the Champion pub, along Wells Street, building work is transforming the building that was here, and is adding additional floors to the top, which partly obscures the view of the BT Tower from further south along the street:

Champion pub

There was one further site that I wanted to find, and this required a walk west, along Eastcastle Street.

Eastcastle Street was originally called Castle Street, a name taken from a pub that was in the street. The name change to Eastcastle Street happened in 1918. I cannot find the reason for the name change, but suspect it was one of the many name changes across London in the late 19th / early 20th centuries, to reduce the number of streets with the same name.

At 30 Eastcastle Street is this rather ornate building:

Eastcastle Street

Dating from 1889, this is the Grade II listed Welsh Baptist Chapel, the main church for Welsh Baptists in London.

Eastcastle Street is a mix of architectural styles. Narrow buildings that retain the original building plots, buildings with decoration that does not seem to make any sense, and rows of the type of businesses that frequent the streets north of Oxford Street.

Eastcastle Street

At the end of Eastcastle Street is the junction with Great Titchfield Street and Market Place:

Oxford Market

In the above photo, Great Titchfield Street runs left to right, and the larger open space opposite is part of Market Place.

The name comes from Oxford Market, a market that originally occupied much of the space around the above photo, with the market building on the site of the building to the left, and the open space in the photo being part of the open space around the market building.

in the following map, the Champion pub is circled to the upper right. On the left of the map, the blue square is where the market building of Oxford Market was located, the red rectangles show the open space around the market with the upper rectangle being where the open space can still be seen today (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Oxford Market

Rocque’s map of 1746 shows Oxford Market, just north of Oxford Street:

Oxford Market

Oxford Market had been completed by 1724, however the opening was delayed as Lord Craven, who owned land to the south of Oxford Street feared what the competition would do to his Carnaby Market, however Oxford Market was finally granted a Royal Grant to open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The market was built to encourage activity in the area, as the fields to the north of Oxford Street were gradually being transformed into streets and housing.

The market took its name, either from Oxford Street to the south, or more likely, Edward, Lord Harley, the Earl of Oxford who was the owner of the land on which the market was built as well as much of the surrounding land.

Harley had come into possession of the land through his wife, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, who was the only child of John Holles, the Duke of Newcastle, the original owner of the farmland around Oxford Street.

The original market buildings were of wood, and the market was rebuilt in a more substantial form in 1815. The following view of the second version of Oxford Market comes from Edward Walford’s Old and New London:

Oxford Market

We can get a view of what was for sale at Oxford Market from newspaper reports:

  • February 8th, 1826 – john Wollaston & Co were selling their Gin in quantities of no less than 2 gallons at a price of 15 shillings per gallon
  • January 20th, 1824 – A “Great Room” of 45 feet square in the interior of the market was being advertised as being suitable for upholsterers, warehousemen and flower gardeners. The room was fitted with an ornamental stone basin and fountain and was suited for a flower garden
  • April 25th, 1841 – The Oxford Market Loan Office was advertising loans of Ten Guineas, Ten and Fifteen Pounds, which could be had from their office at the market
  • May 18th, 1833 – Rippon’s Old Established Furnishing Ironmongery Warehouse was advertising Fire Irons, Coal Scuttles, Knives and Forks, Metal Teapots and Tea Urns for sale from their warehouse at the market
  • December 15th 1827 – The lease of a Pork Butcher and Cheesemonger store at the market was being advertised. The store had been taking in £3,800 per year
  • June 27th, 1801 – Several lumps of butter, deficient in weight, were seized by the Clerks of the Oxford Market and distributed to the poor

So traders in the Oxford Market were selling a wide range of products, butter, pork, teapots and coal scuttles, flowers and gin, and you could also take out a loan at the market.

Nothing to do with Oxford Market, however on the same page as the 1801 report of butter being seized, there was another report which tells some of the terrible stories of life in London:

“Wednesday were executed in the Old Bailey, pursuant to their sentences, J. McIntoth and J. Wooldridge, for forgery, and W. Cross, R. Nutts, J, Riley and J. Roberts, for highway robbery. The unfortunate convicts were all men of decent appearance, and their conduct on the scaffold was such as became their awful situation.

Some of the above prisoners attempted on Monday to make their escape from Newgate through the common sewer – they explored as far as Milk-street, Cheapside, when the intolerable stench and filth overpowered their senses; with great difficulty they found their way to the iron-grating and intreated by their cries to be liberated. assistance was immediately procured, when they were released without much difficulty.”

These two paragraphs say so much: that you could be hung for forgery, the statement that their conduct on the scaffold was “such as became their awful situation”, and their desperation in seeking an escape via the sewer. Milk Street is roughly 568 metres from the site of the Old Bailey so they had travelled a considerable distance in an early 19th century sewer.

Back to Oxford Market, and the following view is looking down Market Place towards Oxford Street which can be seen through the alley at the end of the street:

Oxford Market

In the above photo, the market building was on the left, and open space in front of the market occupied the space where the building is on the right, the corner of which is shown in the following photo. The block was all part of the open space in front of Oxford Market.

Oxford Market

Oxford Market was never really a financial success. For a London market it was relatively small which may have limited the number of suppliers and the range of goods available.

By the late 1830s, part of the market had been converted into offices from where out-pensioners of Chelsea Hospital were paid.

The market buildings was sold in 1876, demolished in 1881, and a block of flats built on the site.

Although Oxford Market is long gone, the street surrounding three sides of the old market building is still called Market Place, and the footprint of the building, and the surrounding open space can still be seen in the surrounding streets, and the wider open space and restaurants along the northern stretch of Market Place.

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Pennyfields, Poplar

The three volumes of “Wonderful London”, published in the 1920s contain a fascinating photographic record of the city at the start of the 20th century. Many of the scenes are recognisable today, however many have also changed beyond all recognition, and offer a glimpse of a way of life before being swept away during post-war redevelopment. One of these photos is of Pennyfields, Poplar.

The photo is titled “Gloom and Grime in the East End: Chinatown”, and has the following description: “A view of Pennyfields, which runs from West India Dock Road to Poplar High Street. There is a Chinese restaurant on the corner. A few Chinese and European clothes are all that are to be seen in the daytime”:

Pennyfields

The same view today (March 2022):

Pennyfields

The only surviving feature between the two photos which are around 100 years apart (although Wonderful London was published in 1926/7, the individual photos are not dated), is the street, Pennyfields, which runs from West India Dock Road (where I am standing), to Poplar High Street.

There are a number of features in the Wonderful London photo, two pubs on the left of the street, and the Chinese restaurant on the right, and the following graphic shows the position of these on the street today:

Pennyfields

Pennyfields still runs between West India Dock Road and Poplar High Street, and I have circled the street in the map below  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Pennyfields

Pennyfields, and the surrounding area, changed dramatically during the 19th century. At the start of the century, there was still a considerable amount of open space, however the arrival of the West India and East India Docks would drive the development of the area, and by the end of the 19th century, the land around Pennyfields was covered in dense terrace housing along with the infrastructure needed to serve the docks.

The following map is from Smiths New Plan of London, dated 1816. Pennyfields is not named, and appears to be a westward continuation of Poplar High Street:

Pennyfields

And by the time of the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, Pennyfields is named, and the whole area is built up (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Pennyfields

I have marked a number of features in the above map. H. Doe. Foon is the Chinese restaurant on the corner. Note that the shape of the building in the above map is the same as the building in the photo. The restaurant also has the number 57. This was 57 West India Dock Road, not Pennyfields.

As with any east London street of the late 20th century, there are a number of pubs.

The pub that can just be seen on the left of the Wonderful London photo was the Commercial Tavern. Not seen in the photo, but to the upper left on the West India Dock Road was the Oporto Tavern.

In the Wonderful London photo, there is what appears to be a pub, with a large lantern outside. This is not marked as a Public House on the Ordnance Survey map, but I believe from checking street directories, that this was the premises of John Simpson, Beer Retailer, and would later become the Rose and Crown.

There are two more pubs along Pennyfields, not seen in the photo, the Three Tuns and the Silver Lion are marked on the map.

I will start a walk through the area just north of Pennyfields, at the Westferry Arms in West India Dock Road. In the 1895 OS map, I have marked the pub just north west of Pennyfields as the Oporto Tavern, and today it is the Westferry Arms:

Westferry Arms

The pub was originally the Oporto Tavern and changed name to the Westferry Arms around the year 2012, presumably named after Westferry Road which starts almost opposite the pub, along with Westferry DLR station.

The first reference I can find to the pub is from 1864, when the pub was advertising in the Morning Advertiser for a potman, so I suspect the pub was opened around 1860.

The pub was just a short distance north of one of the main entrances to the West India Docks, and was popular with those who worked at the docks as well as those who arrived by ship.

Bill Neal, who had been landlord of the Oporto Tavern for thirty one years when he died in 1951 and was such an institution that his death resulted in an article in the national Daily Mirror, an article which describes a way of life that would soon change for ever:

“The Juke Box is silent now in the pub where the sailors go – Before dawn came to London’s Covent Garden yesterday they were seeking out the most fragrant, whitest lilac and later, down in the West India Dock-road, Chinese were searching for black-edged handkerchiefs of mourning.

For Bill Neal is dead. Bill who for thirty-one years stood behind the bar of the Oporto Tavern in the West India Dock-road, only a few yards from the gates of the docks that lead seafarers to faraway places.

Bill was the seamen’s first port of call. He cared for the money of the wise ones who were determined to blot out their cares in drink. He was a soft touch for a free meal. Legend has it that he once even gave away his boots. But he could throw out the noisy drunkard quicker than any other landlord.

A man walked sadly into the saloon bar yesterday and stuck a slip of paper over the slot of the juke-box.

For the rest of the week, visiting seamen will not hear the music they love – for Bill Neal is dead.

And in the bar where Bill reigned for so many years – above the song song of the Chinese barbers and laundrymen, and the voices of the Limehouse Cockney, one voice was clear this morning.

It was that of the Rev. H. Evans, vicar of St Matthias, poplar, who stood where he had so often stood to have a chat with Bill. He was the ideal Christian, Mr. Evans said, he thought of other people and never of himself. Other people say he was foolishly generous.

In the decades after Bill Neal’s death, the docks would close and the seamen would disappear, and today the tower blocks of flats that are typical of new building on the Isle of Dogs have reached to the opposite side of the West India Dock Road:

Westferry Arms

The Westferry Arms closed in 2016 after a number of years when the pub attracted the drugs trade and also many complaints of noise, which is rather strange given how close the pub was to the (also now closed) Limehouse Police Station, which was a very short distance further north.

In 2015 there was an application to review the premises licence for the Westferry Arms, and reading through it is almost comical, where “whilst in the yard of the Limehouse Police Station, Police Officers smelt a strong smell of cannabis in the air coming from the direction of the Westferry Arms Public House.”

The request to remove the pubs licence was turned down, however this was on the basis that the pub would implement a number of new measures to address the sale and use of drugs and to restrict noise and outside drinking. The request was also turned down at the licensing sub-committee as members “were very concerned about the lack of action taken by the Police despite the premises being just meters away from the Limehouse Police Station”.

Today, the Westferry Arms is closed, with metal grills protecting the ground floor doors and windows:

Westferry Arms

In 2020 a planning application was approved to demolish the Westferry Arms, and build a new nine storey tower, with the basement and ground floor being available as a pub, and the upper 8 floors consisting of a mix of one, two and three bedroom flats.

Westferry Arms

No indication of when demolition will start, and while the Westferry Arms / Oporto Tavern waits, it reflects that even if the ground floor of the new development opens as a pub, it will never see the likes of Bill Neal, Dockers or seamen from around the world again.

Westferry Arms

Just to the right of the pub is Birchfield Street. I noticed one of the wonderful London County Council plaques on the side of Birchfield House:

Birchfield House

Birchfield House was the result of the only LCC slum clearance project in Poplar in the 1920s, and became part of the much larger Birchfield Estate during post war slum clearances, and redevelopment of bomb damaged buildings.

The following photo is looking back at the terrace of shops and flats where Pennyfields meets the West India Dock Road. The Commercial Tavern which can just be seen in the Wonderful London photo was at the far end of the terrace, where the blue / green shops are located.

Commercial Tavern

The terrace of shops appears to date from the 1970s and were built following the clearance of buildings along this stretch of the street, which included demolition of the Commercial Tavern.

The closed and shuttered Pennyfield Launderette:

Launderette

The next pub in the street is a bit of a mystery. In the Wonderful London photo, there appears to be a pub further down the street. It has large signs on the façade and a large hanging lantern over the street. It is a narrow building with only two horizontal window bays.

The 1895 OS map does not mark the building with the PH letters for a public house, however reading through street directories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the occupation of the owner is listed as “beer seller”.

Checking for newspaper references and there are a number at the end of the 19th century to the “Rose and Crown beerhouse”. It is not identified as a public house.

The difference is down to the 1830 Beer Act, which defined a beer house as a premises which was only licenced to sell beer, and could not sell wine, spirits etc. So a public house could sell the full range of alcoholic drinks, and the beerhouse, only beer.

A later incarnation of the Rose and Crown can be found on Pennyfields today.

The original building lasted until the 1950s. Whilst the rest of the street was being purchased by the LCC for redevelopment, the Rose and Crown was rebuilt, and the 1950s version of the Rose and Crown pub can be seen on the street today:

Rose and Crown

Probably the most famous owners of the Rose and Crown were Queenie and Slim Watts. Born locally on the Isle of Dogs, Queenie was also a jazz singer. They ran two pubs, the Rose and Crown on Pennyfields and the Iron Bridge Tavern, at 447 East India Dock Road.

I cannot find the exact dates when Queenie Watts ran the Rose and Crown, various Internet posts about her refer to both the 1960s and 1970s, so it may have been across both decades.

Most newspaper reports about her and one of the pubs are from the 1960s, where, for example, the Stage on the 5th of November 1964 refer to “Queenie Watts of the Iron Bridge as the East Ends first lady”.

There are a number of videos of her singing and perhaps one of the best to give an impression of her pubs in the 1960s is this video, which looks a real rather than a staged event, by the way people look at the camera.

The Rose and Crown closed in the year 2000 and for a while was converted into a private house. Today, the ground floor is home to a Chinese restaurant.

The following photo is looking along Pennyfields, towards Poplar High Street. The south side of the street is on the right and in the late 19th century was described as the poorest side of the street, with cheap and crowded lodging houses, houses occupied by poor manual labourers, and brothels.

Pennyfields

The reason why a photo of Pennyfields was included in the Wonderful London book was down to the reputation of Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway as being the east London home of hundreds of Chinese seafarers and their families.

This was only for a relatively short period of time from the 1st World War to the 1930s, with the peak of the area’s reputation being in the 1920s – the same time as Wonderful London was published.

Pennyfields had always been multicultral, and checking census data and street directories, Jewish, Irish, Scandinavian and German names can be found.

In the 1910 street directory there was a Scandinavian Reading Room, and there were only two names which appear to be of Chinese origin: Wan Tsang, a Tobacconist at number 6, and Chang Ahon, an Interpreter at number 42.

The number would grow rapidly, with 182 Chinese men living in Pennyfields in 1918, and in the 1930s, around 5,000 were recorded as living in Pennyfields, Limehouse Causeway and the surrounding streets.

Moving into the area around Pennyfields was mainly down to the very close proximity of the docks (many were seamen), the availability of shops, restaurants etc. serving a Chinese customer base, and living in the same area as those of a similar origin – themes which have always influenced waves of east London immigration. Hostility from British sailors also prompted a clustering together by the Chinese seafaring community.

Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway entered the public imagination as a place of mystery, opium dens, crime, brothels etc. In the 1920s, people from the wealthier parts of London would visit the area on a tour to see the mysterious Chinatown. East London opium dens have long featured in literature, film and TV series.

In reality, Pennyfields was much like any other east London street. It had a large Chinese population, but there were also many other nationalities as well as British working class.

The street was poor, housing and lodgings were crowded and in poor condition (again, much like many other east London streets). The street served a local economy, so to make money from the nearby docks there were pubs, brothels and lodging houses. The street had a mobile population as seamen from the docks arrived and departed.

Signage in the street added to its reputation, with Chinese names and written characters appearing on buildings – as seen on the resturant of H. Doe. Foon, but again much of this was short lived.

H. Doe Foon was on the corner of Pennyfields and West India Dock Road, and had a West India Dock address, being at number 57.

In the 1910 Post Office Directory, 57 West India Dock Road is listed a being occupied by Hutton and Co. Ship Chandlers. In the East London Observer, on the 10th of May 1930, 57 West India Dock Road was advertised as having the freehold for sale of a prominent corner shop and rooms. H. Doe Foon is listed in the 1920 street directory, so I suspect that it was the H. Doe Foon restaurant for nearly all of the 1920s.

But by being photographed and published in Wonderful London, H. Doe Foon has added to the street’s reputation.

The text with the photo in Wonderful London describes that within the street are “a score of shops selling chop suey, dried fish and vegetables, monster medicinal pills, tea, weird sweetmeats, and white preparation of palm”.

The text also describes crowded rooms with Chinamen playing “fan tan”, gambling, and the availability of drugs with a chalk cross on a door indicating that opium is available, and two crosses that cocaine can be purchased (perhaps like the Westferry Arms, Wonderful London also mentions that “it is virtually impossible for the police to obtain sufficient evidence to convict”).

The 19th century buildings of Pennyfields lasted until the 1950s and 1960s, when they were finally demolished to make way for new LCC / GLC flats and housing. The following extract from the 1950 OS map shows that many buildings did survive wartime bombing, although they were in a very poor condition by this time (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Pennyfields map

In the above map, the Rose and Crown is shown, so no longer a beer house, and to the right, at number 39, is the Three Tuns, one of the oldest pubs on the street. The first reference I can find to the pub is from 1826, when the name of the pub was used in a fraud where cheques were presented at various London breweries in an attempt to get the fake cheque cashed. Over £400 had been made this way before the person running the fraud was caught.

As with the rest of the street, the Three Tuns was demolished for post war redevelopment, which included Rosefield Gardens (a new street running north from Pennyfields) and the surrounding housing:

Rosefield Gardens

Much of the north eastern side of Pennyfields is now a park – Pennyfields Park, which again was created during the redevelopment of the area, the following photo shows one of the entrances to the park. the Three Tuns pub would have been just to the right, behind the recycling signage.

Pennyfields Park

That a Pennyfields Park was created in the post war redevelopment of the area may be an accidental pointer to the origins of the name.

The meaning of the name is lost, however on Rocque’s 1746 map of London there is a reference to a Penny Fields, which seems to have been a 16 acre block of mainly undeveloped land (underlined in red in the following extract):

Pennyfields

As well as being on Rocque’s 1746 map, there are mentions of the 16 acres of Penny Fields in 17th century land transactions, so the name does go back to at least the 1600s.

In the above map extract, Poplar High Street is on the right, and the street that will take the name Pennyfields is the straight street that connects Poplar High Street to Limehouse Causeway.

There is one final pub to track down, and this may well be the oldest on the street. To the right of the OS map of Pennyfields is a pub called the Silver Lion.

The first mention of the Silver Lion is from an advert for a property for sale, which gives us a description of the area before the dense housing that would come during the rest of the 19th century.

On the 21st of February 1815, the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser was advertising “the Leasehold premises, known as Ebenezer House, near the Silver Lion, Penny Fields, Poplar, comprising a substantial brick built dwelling house most commandingly situate at the end of Penny Fields, in the most preferable part of Poplar High Street , with a large plot of garden ground in the front, enclosed with a dwarf wall and palisade railings. The house contains four good bedrooms, two parlours, entrance passage, kitchen, pantry, wine cellars, and other conveniences”.

If you look at the Rocque map extract, there is a Robins Rope Walk, this appears to have been within the 16 acres of Penny Fields as in the same newspaper as the above advert, there is also for sale “a Leasehold estate, adjoining Mr. Burchfield’s rope-ground, Penny-Fields, Poplar”.

So Pennyfields started off as a 16 acres plot of land to the south of the street, and included a rope-ground where lengths of rope for ships was made.

The name then was used for a street connecting Poplar High Street and Limehouse Causeway.

Originally with a few larger houses with gardens, the street was densely built during the 19th century with houses and premises that catered to the nearby West India Docks.

At the end of the 19th century, and in the early decades of the 20th century, Pennyfields was at the centre of the Chinese population in east London.

The post-war decline of the docks, bomb damage, and the gradually decaying state of the housing within Pennyfields led to redevelopment by the LCC and then the GLC which demolished all the 19th century buildings, rebuilt the Rose and Crown, and lined the street with new flats.

And that is how we see the street today, however although the name dates back to at least the 17th century, I suspect Pennyfields will always be known for the Chinese influence on the street for a few decades in the early 20th century.

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Middlesex Guildhall, City of London School and White Swan Pub

One of the brilliant things with writing the blog posts is the feedback from readers in the comments section. Readers frequently provide additional information, or clarify questions that I had not been able to answer, and last week’s post was no exception.

The reason I could not find any further UK census information or references to the later life of Llewellyn Wooderson is that it appears that he emigrated to New Zealand. The answer to the age difference between Henry Wooderson and his wife Sarah in the 1881 census appears to be an error in Henry’s year of birth, in addition to the spelling of Leicester Square as Lester Square – you cannot always believe everything in census data and need to double check with multiple sources where possible. There was also some feedback on the Toronto, Canada birth of their son.

I had taken the 2021 photo of the old shop not that long ago, and Cards Galore, the shop that now occupies that of L&R Wooderson is reported to have closed. If so, a sad casualty of the lack of office workers in the City.

My thanks for the feedback to last week’s post, and indeed, feedback to all posts.

Now to the subject of this week’s post. Two rather lovely London buildings, and an update on another city pub at risk.

Middlesex Guildhall

The Royal Aquarium was the subject of one of last year’s posts, and to illustrate the location of the building, I included the following map. To the right was another building, marked as “Guildhall”, circled in red in the map below:

Middlesex Guildhall

Middlesex Guildhall is a rather impressive building, facing onto Parliament Square. Once the home of Middlesex County Council and Quarter Sessions, the building is now home to the Supreme Court.

The inclusion of Middlesex in the name refers to the old County of Middlesex that once included much of London, dating from a time when the country was split into counties, rather than many of the City and Metropolitan Boroughs and administrative divisions that we have today, for example Greater London, which took over much of the County of Middlesex following the London Government Act 1963, although London had already been chipping away at the boundaries of counties such as Middlesex and Essex for some time.

The site of the Middlesex Guildhall was the site of Westminster Abbey’s Sanctuary Tower and Old Belfry. The name sanctuary refers to the expectation that fugitives could claim sanctuary from pursuers if they could make it into the building. The name can still be found today as I will show later in the post.

An old court house had existed on the site during the 19th century, however in 1889 this was replaced by the first Middlesex Guildhall, however this was too small for both the administrative and legal functions carried out in the building, and the building that we see today was built between 1906 and 1913. This was the building in the early 1920s:

Middlesex Guildhall

And 100 years later the building remains exactly the same, although now cleaned, and the trees in the foreground have grown:

Middlesex Guildhall

The architect was James Gibson, who designed a late Gothic style building, faced with Portland Stone, although with a steel frame which helped take on much of the load bearing functions and supported features such as the tower which rises from the centre of the façade facing onto Parliament Square.

Gibson’s other work in London included West Ham Technical College, completed in 1895.

Some of the very distinctive features of the building are the sculpture by Henry Charles Fehr, which can be found across the building. Fehr was also responsible for some of the carving on the wood seating and panels in the Court Rooms. The Middlesex Guildhall would be considered the peak of his career.

The following photo shows the cluster of sculpture above the main entrance to the building:

Middlesex Guildhall

This shows Henry III (on the left), granting a charter to the Abbey of Westminster. Above are the arms of the County of Middlesex (the three Seaxes, or swords, with the crown above), and below is what looks to be a view of Westminster Hall:

Middlesex Guildhall

There is more on either side of the main entrance, including Lady Jane Grey being offered the crown by her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland:

Middlesex Guildhall

And King John with the Barons at Runnymede:

Middlesex Guildhall

Fehr’s work is finely carved and very detailed:

Middlesex Guildhall

The building was designed with courts of law for the administration of justice, and this role has continued to this day as the building is now home to the Supreme Court. Figures holding the symbols of Justice:

Middlesex Guildhall

The courtrooms within the Middlesex Guildhall have seen many trials over the years. Some of the more unusual were possibly the court martial of spies during the First World War. For example from the Evening Telegraph on the 14th July 1915:

“TWO GERMANS ARRESTED ON CHARGE OF BEING SPIES, On His Majesty’s Fleet – The authorities announce the arrest of two alleged German spies. Their trial will take place by Court Martial on Friday next at Middlesex Guildhall. The whole proceedings will be held in camera.

They will be charged with collecting and attempting to communicate with the enemy, information about His Majesty’s Fleet.”

The above trial followed an earlier trial of the alleged spy Robert Rosenthal which was the subject of some publicity at the time as the London Daily News reported on the 7th July 1915:

“TRIAL OF ROSENTHAL. Proceedings in Camera at Middlesex Guildhall – The trial of the alleged spy, Robert Rosenthal, began before a general court martial at Middlesex Guildhall yesterday. He is accused of coming to this country for the purpose of obtaining information both of a naval and military character.

Originally it was announced that part of the evidence would be taken in public, but at the last moment it was decided that the whole trial should take place in camera.

Prisoner was defended by Mr. Frampton. A large crowd assembled outside Middlesex Guildhall to witness the arrival of the members of the court. None of the public was allowed in the building. The entrance to the court where the trial was conducted was guarded by soldiers, and inside Rosenthal was placed between soldiers with fixed bayonets.”

Robert Rosenthal was a German, born in Magdeburg in 1892. At the age of around 16, he went to sea, and spent time in America where he presumably learnt, or improved his American accent as in 1914 he was in England using the assumed name of Harry Berger and travelling as an American.

He travelled between England and the continent a couple of times without any problems, but on his final trip in May 1915 he was arrested as he tried to board a ship.

His arrest was down to a strange error in the direction of post. He would travel back to Copenhagen as travel to Germany was not possible, and when in Copenhagen he had posted a letter to Germany, detailing his plans. This letter was accidently put into a mail bag heading to England, which was opened on arrival by the postal censorship authorities, revealing his identity and travel plans.

The court martial at Middlesex Guildhall found Rosenthal guilty and he was sentenced to death as a spy. Rather than the typical execution by firing squad, Rosenthal was hanged at Wandsworth prison just 8 days after the trial, on the 15th July 1925.

Whilst the Middlesex Guildhall today does not see any court martials, as the home of the Supreme Court, the building will now often see the ultimate determination of justice. Probably the most high profile recent cases have been the challenges to the Brexit vote and the process of leaving the European Union a few years ago.

As well as the historic and legal sculpture, there are also a number of cultural references, including the following reclining figure with an artist’s palette and brushes.

Middlesex Guildhall

A walk to the rear of the Middlesex Guildhall will be rewarding. The name of the street, Little Sanctuary, recalls what was here when Westminster Abbey allowed privilege of sanctuary to law-breakers who took refuge in its north west precincts.

Middlesex Guildhall

More of Henry Charles Fehr’s ornate sculpture can be found:

Middlesex Guildhall

And then there is a rather different entrance:

Middlesex Guildhall

The stone gateway surround is all that remains of Bridewell or Tothill Fields prison which originally stood roughly where Westminster Cathedral is today, set back from Victoria Street.

The plaque above the door reads:

“Here are ….. Sorts of Work for the Poor of this Parish of St Margaret’s Westminster. As also the County according to Law and for Such as will Beg and Live Idle in this City and Liberty of Westminster. Anno 1665.”

A sign adjacent to the door explains how the gateway arrived at the Middlesex Guildhall:

Middlesex Guildhall

The Middlesex Guildhall is Grade II* listed, however this did not stop some significant internal change when the building was reconfigured to be ready to function as the Supreme Court.

The three Court Rooms, with the main court room originally being the Council Chamber for Middlesex Council, were planned to have much of their wooded seating, paneling and decoration removed and many of the internal rooms reconfigured for their new purpose.

Save Britain’s Heritage campaigned for the changes to be abandoned, however although they had the support of many in the arts and architecture communities, judges and MPs, Westminster Council approved the plans, and on appeal it was decided that it was in the national interest to have a Supreme Court and for the court to be located in Middlesex Guildhall, and that these national interests over-rode listed buildings law.

The original plans had included the removal of the arms of Middlesex from above the main entrance doors, however, as the photograph shows earlier in the post, the arms remain as a reminder of the original function of the building.

The second building for this week’s post is the:

Old City of London School

Viewed from across the River Thames, just to the west of Blackfriars Bridge, and between the cranes of the works for the Thames Tideway Tunnel is the building that was home to the City of London School.

City of London School

The origins of the school date back to around 1442, when John Carpenter, a former Town Clerk of the City left a property for the education of four choristers at the Guildhall Chapel.

In the early 19th century, the City of London decided to review the provision of education in the City, including that provided to the Guildhall Choristers, and in 1883 decided to found a school for the “religious and virtuous education of boys, and for instructing them in the higher branches of literature and in all other useful learning”.

The result was the first City of London School which was built on the site of Honey Lane Market, north of Cheapside. This market was not far from the site of last week’s post on the corner of Wood Lane and Cheapside, see the same map from the post showing the location of Honey Lane Market:

City of London School

The Honey Lane Market school opened in 1837, however by 1878 the school was becoming far too crowded, and the decision was taken that a new site and larger school was needed. The school was described as “affording educational facilities, to, on an average, upwards of 600 boys at one time. The sons of people residing in, and within a few miles of the City of London, and engaged in commercial, professional or trading pursuits, at moderate cost, and without removing them from the care or control of their parents”.

The original school on the site of Honey Lane Market:

City of London School

Source: Wikimedia Commons – Engraving by J. Woods of the City of London School in Milk Street. Original steel engraving drawn by Hablot Browne (1815-1882) after a sketch by Robert Garland (1808-1863). This was published in The History of London Illustrated by Views in London and Westminster (1838)

By coincidence, Henry Charles Fehr, who was responsible for the sculpture on the Middlesex Guildhall, had been a pupil at the City of London School on the Honey Lane Market site.

A site alongside the recently constructed Victoria Embankment was chosen, and in December 1882, the new school was opened by the Prince of Wales.

The new school would support up to 700 children and was intended to provide a level of education that would “lead to Universities for those who seek it”.

The new school photographed at the end of the 19th century, about 15 years after opening:

City of London School

To the rear of the building facing the Victoria Embankment were a number of additional school buildings along with a large playground and gym. Below ground there was a rifle range.

In 1937 for the centenary of the school, a biology lab was opened along with “one of the finest swimming pools in London”. In 1956 a Junior School was added to the site and two years later new Science rooms were added.

View of the school from Blackfriars Bridge, partly hidden by the Thames Tideway Tunnel works where a new intercept junction is being built, so that flow from the city sewer system can be intercepted and fed into the new tunnel. A new public space will be created when the work has completed.

City of London School

In the above photo, it looks as if the new river wall to the new space is being installed. Taking a closer look at this I was fascinated to see that the words “Bazalgette Embankment, Tunnel 48m Below”. Brilliant to see that the creator of the Embankment is being remembered, along with the latest engineering project at the site, with the depth of the tunnel far below.

Detail on the new river wall:

City of London School

A side view of the old City of London School shows the different materials used, with stone facing to the front of the building and much cheaper brick to the sides:

City of London School

The school on the Embankment would continue in use until 1986, when a new school was built, a short distance along the river, on a large site between Queen Victoria Street and the river. Part being constructed over Upper Thames Street.

The front of the building from the Victoria Embankment:

City of London School

If you look at the above photo, just below the parapet that lines the base of the roof, you will see four statues which reflect the educational focus of the school in literature, poetry and science with Shakespeare, Bacon, Milton and Newton being represented, however one of these has a strange spelling:

City of London School

Look at the statue to the left, and the spelling of the name on the plinth is Shakspeare, missing out the “e” between the k and s, as in the normal spelling of Shakespeare.

I know there have been alternative spellings of Shakespeare’s name, however the version with the “e” seems to have been the standard for many years.

Was it a simple spelling mistake? Did one letter need to be dropped so the longer name would fit across the plinth? or is there some other reason? I would love to know.

Following the move of the school in 1986, the building was refurbished and is currently occupied by the asset management company J.P. Morgan.

The Middlesex Guildhall and the City of London School have found new uses, and appear safe for the time being from any further redevelopment, however for my final building of this week’s post, there is a pub that may be at risk:

The White Swan – Fetter Lane

I photographed and wrote about the Swan in Fetter Lane last July when I went on a walk to find all the pubs of the City of London.

White Swan

Plans have recently been approved for the redevelopment of 100-108 Fetter Lane, however these plans include two options for the pub:

Option A is for a new office building, but with the White Swan Pub relocated and “reimagined in an enhanced manner”.

Option B is for flexible office space, a pedestrian route, gardens and the White Swan retained as part of an extension of new commercial space.

Source: Buildington

Option A, where the pub appears to be demolished, and a new pub built in the dreaded words of “reimagined in an enhanced manner” sound rather ominous.

White Swan

Just three buildings out of the thousands that can be found across London, and representative of the change that always has, and will continue to take place across the city’s streets. I do hope though, that the White Swan survives. A fine example of a 1950’s brick built, London pub.

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