Updated: Dec 21, 2019
A few posts ago I found myself in west London which sent my thoughts back to the pubs that featured in my life, in and around W6 and W12, back in the mid 1970s. Were they still serving? Were the buildings even still in existence? Having been laid low by a vicious virus with no pedalling possible I did a little investigating with some assistance from Mr. Google.
The Dove by the river in Hammersmith? Fuller's ESB on sloping tables. Still there.
The Anglesea Arms on Wingate Road? Still there.
The Raven on Goldhawk Road. A haunt of Stan Bowles and other QPR players. (Any confusion on Mr. Bowles' part could not be attributed to his Alzheimer's in those days.) Still there.
The Crown & Sceptre on Melina Road? Still there.
The Queen Adelaide on Uxbridge Road? Still there.
The Anglesea Arms on Selwood Terrace (although I always referred to it as being in Onslow Gardens)? Still there.
All still there, although it seems that many of them have significantly changed in character in the last four decades or so. The last of the above six is fixed firmly in my mind as it gave me my first experience of a fifty pence pint. Let's just put things into a bit of perspective. At the time my regular haunt was charging nineteen pence for a pint of Marston's Burton Bitter and twenty-one pence for a pint of Pedigree. I was so shocked at being charged fifty-five pence for a pint of Ruddle's County - FIFTY-FIVE PENCE! - that I had to buy a second. Just to check that an error hadn't been made, you understand. I suppose I was in South Kensington. I've heard that Peroni was going at £6.30 there a couple of weeks ago. I'm still regularly quaffing Marston's Burton Bitter, but now it costs me £3.00. That's SW7 for you!
So it looks as if they're all still up and running. But what about some of the others that I recall from those days? Perhaps they're all still up and running too. Time for a virtual voyage. Like a latter day Ralph McTell, Mr. Google took me by the hand and led me through the streets of London, to show me something to make me change my mind. (If the significance of that last sentence is lost on you, click here.)
To visit the inamorata of the day (Inamorata. Inamorata. I really like that word. Inamorata. If you've been reading this drivel for a while you may recall its use in this earlier post. Inamorata. Same word, same inamorata.) it was a case of catching the Emerald Isle Express, and on arrival at Euston, nip across to Euston Square, get on the tube on the Metropolitan Line (now Hammersmith & City) and head west. As I passed the recently opened twenty-four storeys of Grenfell Tower on the approach to Latimer Road I knew it'd be just a couple more stops.
Shepherd's Bush (as it was called then) and finally Goldhawk Road (no Wood Lane station in those days) and my five hour journey was over. Out onto the street. Turn left and continue heading west along Goldhawk Road. In less than a hundred yards, on the west corner of Richford Street, was the British Prince. Was! The British Prince is now an estate agents.
The first reference to the place that I can find is that the 1851 census has John Crump at the British Prince on New Road as it was called back then. I can't find anyone at the Prince in the 1861 one. I can't find the Prince in the 1861 one. I can't even find the appropriate bit of Goldhawk Road in the 1861 one. However, by 1871 William and Charlotte Hammond are there. Charlotte's still there ten years later, even though William wasn't. He had died on 17th May 1874.
At some point in the last forty years the pub lost its nationality and The British Prince simply became known as The Prince. It also became owned by Greene King which may well have contributed to its current status as a bygone boozer.
By 2012 it had discovered ecstacy and buddhism...
...and by 2013 it was dead.
A little further along, on the corner of Brackenbury Road, was The Wheatsheaf. Opening around 1850, its first landlord was James Hollick Davis who is recorded as being there in the 1851 census. The picture below dates from around 1910 when Tom Chapman was in charge. He was there from at least the time of the 1901 census into the 1920s.
In the mid 1970s it had a gay bar and regular drag shows. I think one of the frequent performers was called Lee Paris, but I'm not absolutely certain about that as I never set foot in the place. Not really my scene.
Since those days The Wheatsheaf went through a number of name changes, the last being to The Brackenbury Arms. It closed in 2009 and is now a restaurant.
Just beyond The Wheatsheaf it was across Goldhawk Road, pop into a mini-market to pick up some Findus Crispy Pancakes, pass the Swakeley Hotel on the corner of Coningham Road and then dive into Cathnor Road. Having evolved into O'Donoghue's at some point this too had closed last year...
...but it seems to have reopened as a gaming bar which sells a decent beer. Not really a pub, but at least it's not dead so that's a little bit of good news. It's also nice to see that the Shepherd & Flock back near the station does appear to be alive and kicking.
So, thank you Mr. Google for taking me on this trip. Just a couple of points to finish with. What's with the blue sky? I can't remember ever seeing blue sky down in 'The Smoke', just various shades of grey. Not fifty, mind you. And secondly, all this reminiscing has made me thirsty. I have had the odd ESB or two since those days - and I do mean just one or two - so in keeping with the spirit of this post it's time for this...