Rosetta Art Centre in West Ham put out the call for volunteers to get involved in an art project based around John Sullivan’s treatise on the mangled history of political socialist parties, and to do with pubs in the Royal Docks. To this day I see little connection between lefties and the dockers’ pubs from 1960 to 1981. I know Socialists met with each other in the pubs, had outdoor meetings and distributed pamphlets, and scuffled with National Front oinks but I’m not getting any evidence either online or at Newham Archives E15 where I went today that there were great conversations between the now vanished working men and any militant Socialists over pints of real ale in the now vanished Royal Dock area pubs. I know that The Bishopsgate Institute E1 may enlighten me.
We can all change history.
Meanwhile what did I get from today? I swooned over Post office Directories of Commercial and Trade establishments in 1961 and the sister directory listing London roads and the names of prominent people who owned private residences. Not in my back yard but I found my old friend’s uncle’s name and address. Hoi Poloi.
I found the public houses’ pages having wasted time and laughed at myself when I found nothing under “pubs”. PH means pub. I counted the 1961 list of pubs in London and it was approx. 3636 but it was a bridge too far to analyse how many of those were in the old Royal Docks. I did see that West Ferry Road had many pubs on its very interesting pavements dotted between flour milling businesses, boot repairers, butchers, stevedore whatevers, timber somethings, canners, shipping whats, dining rooms, refreshment places and more.
There were pubs at numbers 1, 25, 41, 165, 290,194, 248 and more. Funnily enough I walked the length of West Ferry Road last November to introduce myself to the owner at The Bhaji. He was supplying to MUSEfest, my daughter’s musical event, yummy grub. The road was long, damp and dark. I’ll do it in the Spring.
I listed some pubs just by finding E14 or E16 as the reference. My favourite name I found was the “Magnet and Dewdrop” at 194 West Ferry Road, Poplar E14 .
(The Magnet & Dewdrop was situated at 194 West Ferry Road. Present by 1878, this pub was renamed The Telegraph in 1985 when the newspaper of the same name announced that it was moving in across the road. It closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2001.)
Evidently The Connaught Tavern as was in Connaught Road E16 was a dockers’ meeting place for revolutionary tactics. It was in a road which housed the British Sailors Society, King George V Dock, Offices to do with shipping, a refreshment bar (sic) and Pinchin Johnson Paints which I worked for by the by.
Back to names of pubs:-
City Arms, West Ferry Rd E14
Builders Arms, Grundy St E14
African Tavern, Grundy St E14
British Oak, 28 Robin hood Lane E14
Anchor, Chrisp St E14
Crows Nest, Railway Hotel, Ferry House, Falcon, Queens Head, Freemasons Tavern, Galleons Hotel, Lord Stanley and etc etc
The three main roads in the Royal Docks are Victoria Road, Albert Road and North Woolwich Road, The archivist showed me how I could link pubs and their addresses into old maps. But the point is that I was looking for evidence of socialists engaging with dockers in the vanished pubs.
I enjoyed what I did in a great venue. Thanks Newham Archives (not open every day and you need to book)
I realised I could think of words to do with ships and there’d likely be a pub with the same name for example, Anchor.
I used Newham Archive’s typed reference catalogue to match up to folders of photographs. I mean folder as in real life not Cyberspace.
I read through a few oral history books about old Newham published around the 1990s, the heyday of oral history meet-ups.
The Archive Photography Series “Newham Docklands”by Bloch 1995 ISBN 0 75241076
Chalford Oral History “Canning Town Voices” by Bloch et al. 1998 ISBN 0 752410539
“Canning Town” by Bloch 1994 all about Thames Ironworks and The Thunderer. (ship)
ISBN 0 752400576
So I had directories, books and pictures as well as web site addresses given to me by the archivist, Richard.
By Lund 1973 “Buildings in Newham” Section on Public Houses. P.68 onwards.
Using the Archive folder catalogue entitled Photographic subjects I knew I could go to green folder 74 to find great pictures of pubs too.
Web sites. Now many of the web-sites I’ve checked before are splattered with bigotry and offensiveness. eg “pub for poofs” whatever that means. Some of the pubs I wouldn’t give you a Castlemaine XXXX for eg Cundy’s cf The lauded Napier Arms in Hackney Wick. Dumps by any other name.
These are the ones I trawled through all about memories:-
http://www.docklandsmemories.org.uk featuring Mr Stan Dyson (nothing about left wing political agitation in pubs there).
Archives staff directed me to Eastside Community Heritage. I said I belong to them. See all the pub stuff has been done before. Anyone who frequented the pubs as a young person nay man in 1970s would be archived themselves!
I took photos, got distracted and looked for stuff to do with my own ancestry.
I was frozen and nearly three hours had whizzed by.Through a window darkly @E1