Most of the bygone boozers that I drone on about I have some connection with. I've either partaken of their wares or at least have passed them or where they once stood. The only exceptions to this that I can think of have been in the posts about the Cyclists Arms and the Live and Let Die. This is another, although I did pass within about three miles of it whilst driving along the M2 in December 2012. By then it had become yet another bygone boozer.
In order to produce a play on words for the post's title, this New Year's Day post is visiting the Hop & Vine that once served Rainham Mark in Kent.
The building is still serving today. If you fancy one, you can pick up a Mighty Meat or a Pepperoni Passion as a branch of Domino's now operates from 28 London Road. However, it wasn't always a pizza parlour, or even the Hop & Vine.
The building began its life in 1938 as a newly-built pub, the Belisha Beacon. The Kent & Sussex Courier of 19th August of that year featured this little piece:-
MINISTER'S GOOD WISHES FOR PUBLIC HOUSE.
"The Belisha Beacon" is the name given to a new public house at Rainham Mark, Kent. It was built to take the place of the old "Crown Inn" which stood at the gates of the Brompton Barracks, Gillingham, nearby. Its site has often been considered for an extension to the barracks, and now this has come about, and in its place barracks of the most modern type will be erected. In keeping with tradition, the name of the new inn will record its history, and Mr Hore-Belisha has expressed his appreciation in the following letter to Whitbread and Co.:- "I am much refreshed by your proposal and I wish the inn much good fortune and great happiness to all who enter it. May its fame, if not its name, be widespread. It is appropriate for the Phoenix Brewery to raise a new edifice from the ashes of the old." By coincidence "The Belisha Beacon" stands immediately opposite a pedestrian crossing, a fact of which the artist, Miss Kathleen M. Claxton, has made use in designing a sign.
Leslie Hore-Belisha held the position of Secretary of State for War at the time, but his previous ministerial post had been Minister of Transport and he was responsible for the introduction of those amber-coloured globes at pedestrian crossings which bear his name.
An early licensee was Percy Wells, named as such in the 1939 Register, and although owned by Whitbread the Belisha Beacon originally traded as a house belonging to the Phoenix Brewery of Frederick Leney & Sons of Wateringbury - Whitbread having acquired Leney's in 1927. Whitbread sold their Leney houses to Fremlin's in 1961 and then bought Fremlin's in 1967, so perhaps you can work out roughly when this shot was taken!
Around 1981 the Belisha Beacon changed its name to the Hop & Vine. It's listed, with the number Medway 371211, in the 1980 telephone directory as the former and in the 1982 edition as the latter. I haven't found a 1981 copy. Was there one? And it was as the Hop & Vine that it lived out the rest of its days, closing in 2010.
Two years later it had had a little face-lift.
The Rainham History site has this quote:-
Jonathan Lawson, managing director at pub chain Greene King, confirmed it no longer owned the Hop & Vine building.
He said: "We can confirm that the Hop & Vine has been sold to London-based development company Zaan.
"Community pubs are very much at the heart of our business. Sadly, the Hop & Vine is restricted by its size and therefore has limited development potential as a pub.
"After careful consideration, we reluctantly concluded that it is in the best interests of the community to accept an offer for the premises.
"We would like to reassure the people of Rainham that we are committed to the area and continue to welcome customers at our nearest local pub, The Cricketers on the High Street."
Greene King. Now why does that not surprise me?
By 2011 it had become what it is today. Pepperoni Passion, anyone?
Well, after this shortish post there's only two things left to say. Firstly, thanks to Andy James from Rainham History for the use of the non-Google pictures and, secondly, here's wishing you all a Hoppy New Year.
If you've read this far then thank you. Like me, you possibly have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already, you can subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could just follow the link at the top of this page.