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In Need of Inspiration.

It's Saturday evening. Despite the lifting of restrictions the Duke of York is still unable to open so here I am sitting watching Chelsea and Manchester City face each other in an F.A. Cup semi-final with a glass of Aldwark Pale by my elbow. It's totally uninspiring. The match, that is. The IPA's fine. The last three football games I've endured have all been dire. Leicester Tigers have turned in the odd turgid performance or two in the Gallagher Premiership but even those games had some entertaining moments and after this afternoon's Sale v Gloucester fixture this event is endless ennui exemplified.

Simultaneously surfing and peering over the laptop screen occasionally in case something remotely interesting might be happening on the pitch in HA9 I came across this pic taken by Charrington's Brewery as part of an architectural survey of their estate and was inspired to dig a little deeper.

It was the Ladbroke Grove road name which caught my attention. Although I'm not really familiar with Ladbroke Grove the street, Ladbroke Grove the station was a regular landmark on those journeys on the Metropolitan Line, as it was in those days, to the alighting point of Goldhawk Road and the inamorata of the1970s. Does the pub still exist? If it's featured here, what do you think?

The Victoria stood at 346 Ladbroke Grove, right by Victoria Wharf alongside the Grand Union Canal's Paddington Branch.

In all probability the pub didn't exist until just before the turn of the 20th century. In fact, in all probability the building didn't even exist until just before the turn of the 20th century. Ladbroke Grove had nothing like the level of development on it that it has today. Number 346 doesn't feature in the 1898 Electoral register, or any earlier ones, but it appears in the 1900 version when Joseph Furnival is listed as living there. There's no reference to it being a boozer but in the following year's census Joseph has moved and is running the Anchor Inn in Henley. Perhaps he learnt his trade in a small, new canalside pub and quickly moved on to allow another Joseph, Joseph Churchill – previously a cab proprietor – to take over. Joseph mk2 stayed a bit longer than his predecessor, with enumerators recording his presence in both 1901 and 1911.

Let's move on a bit. The Charrington-owned pub passes into the hands of Fuller's in 1977 and the Victoria acquires an new name as well as new owners. With a nod to its proximity to the canal the Victoria becomes the Narrow Boat with new hosts, Wally Sharpe and wife Rene. Things seem almost to have come full circle, for Wally was a cab driver, just like Joseph mk2.

There is a picture of the Narrow Boat in 1986 on which is viewable by clicking here. (I've asked for permission to use it but have yet to receive a reply. If I get a positive response I'll edit this post to include it.)

In the late 1980s it was decided that the bridge over the canal was too narrow for modern traffic levels and in 1989 the Narrow Boat was a victim of the construction of a wider crossing – demolished to allow easier access to a new Sainsbury's. A new block of flats rose on what was left of the site.

New bridge and new flats where the Narrow Boat used to stand. © Google 2021

The Victoria or Narrow Boat has gone and so has any chance that Chelsea or Manchester City will feature in any European Super League. Judging by Saturday's performances they'll be missed less than the pub.

The map extract is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under this license whilst the black and white image of the Victoria is from the collection of the National Brewery Heritage Trust and is reproduced under this one.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Like me, you must 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 simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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