Pubs of London E17, 1991

Detail from the cover of the East London & City Beer Guide, 1991.

CAMRA’s East London & City Beer Guide is a fascinating document which, across three editions from 1983 to 1991, charts changes to the drinking landscape.

We’ve had the 1986 edition for a while, and have 1983 (finally) on the way, but 1991 arrived this week, looking as if it had come fresh from the binders, the spine un-cracked. (“Printed by Calvert’s Press (TU) Worker’s Co-Operative”.)

We turned to the section that covers Walthamstow, London E17 — an area we know particularly well — which prompted a few observations.

1. It hasn’t changed that much. The Grove, the Windmill, the Plough and a few others have gone, but many others are still there — the Lord Brooke, the Lord Raglan, the Lord Palmerston, the Chequers, and so on, many in better shape now than they were when this book was written.

2. It’s always seemed odd that there’s no Wetherspoon’s in Walthamstow (the nearest is across the line into Leyton). Now we know that the College Arms on Forest Road was a JDW (Younger’s Scotch Ale at 79p a pint!) but, at some point, the firm abandoned it — something it seems it’s always been pretty ruthless about.

3. The Village, which looks like a well-worn and traditional Victorian pub, actually opened in 1989. The building is Victorian but the premises was formerly (Boak thinks, calling on childhood memories) residential. For that  matter, The College Arms was formerly two shop units and the Coppermill an off-licence, so these change-of-use conversions have occasionally gone the other way.

4. Pubs change their names a lot. The Tower Hotel became Flanagan’s Tower, which became the Tower Hotel again, which is now the Goose. The College Arms was formerly ‘Cheeks American Bar‘. What is now the Waltham Oak on Lea Bridge Road was formerly the Chestnut Tree, but began life with what might be our new favourite pub name: The Little Wonder.

The content of all three editions is available at this splendidly old-school website if you want to investigate further, but the 1991 edition is also generally available for pennies.

6 thoughts on “Pubs of London E17, 1991”

  1. The Little Wonder was a racehorse, I think. There’s still a very old-school McMullens’ pub called The Wonder in Enfield. The beer in early Spoons was pretty grim – a choice btw Younger’s Scotch of Theakston’s XB.

    1. This one had Greene King Abbot Ale (twice!), Nethergate Old Growler, Younger’s Scotch, Eldridge Pope Royal Oak.

  2. My pal Wombe has just bought a house in the middle of Walthamstow. I’ll show this to the ginger ninja, he’ll love it.

    Bit upset to hear there’s no Spoons, thoughbut.

    1. When we lived round the corner it was always open, closed, re-opened, closed, refurbished, a banqueting hall for a bit, closed, refurbished… Wonder if it will be back this time?

      Having read the report, not that surprised to hear its license was revoked because of drug use and dealing on the premises; and because the upstairs was sublet as slum housing for illegal immigrants.

      1. Yes, I read the report shortly after posting here. It was pretty awful stuff. I suspect it will take a bit of an angel and a strict bit of licensing to get it flourishing again at any time in the future.

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