A trio of East End riverside pubs (Wapping & Limehouse)

We love explor­ing Lon­don on foot, par­tic­u­lar­ly East Lon­don. There’s always some­thing to catch your eye in this area of con­trasts – the strange mix of the very rich and the very poor, incred­i­bly old build­ings pok­ing out between 1960s con­crete blocks, five-for-a-pound samosas next to £50-a-pop sea-bass restau­rants.

And if you’re inter­est­ed in beer, pubs and/or brew­ing his­to­ry, there’s stacks to see, if not nec­es­sar­i­ly to drink. About a year ago, we post­ed these pho­tos of old Tru­man, Han­bury and Bux­ton signs. This time, the theme of our walk was river­side pubs. We did­n’t plan a par­tic­u­lar route or crawl, we just head­ed for the riv­er around Wap­ping to see what we could see.

First­ly, we were intrigued to find our­selves on a Brew­house Lane, just off Wap­ping High Street, which fea­tured “improved indus­tri­al dwellings” from 1864 and Chim­ney court, com­plete with chim­ney. It def­i­nite­ly looks like an old brew­ery com­plex, but a bit of inter­net research has­n’t yet shed much light on which brew­ery, or when it was in oper­a­tion. John Roc­que’s 1747 map of Lon­don shows the street in exact­ly the same loca­tion. If any­one can shed any fur­ther light or even sug­gest where to go to get fur­ther infor­ma­tion, we’d be grate­ful.

Our first beer stop was the Cap­tain Kidd, on Wap­ping High Street, just behind Brew­house Lane. This Sam Smith’s pub looks like it’s been there for cen­turies, but appar­ent­ly only dates from the 1980s. They’ve made great use of the old build­ing in which it’s housed, with big win­dows look­ing over the Thames. There’s also a small beer garden/yard. The usu­al Sam Smith’s selec­tion is avail­able, plus food. All in all, a real­ly nice spot.

Wap­ping High Street con­tin­ues east and becomes Wap­ping Wall. There you’ll find the famous Prospect of Whit­by which dates from 1520 and claims to be the old­est river­side tav­ern. The place just oozes his­to­ry and has lots of prime river­side views. In the summer,the small beer gar­den under the mas­sive weep­ing wil­low is beau­ti­ful; in the win­ter, it’s a cosy place to look out onto the grey Thames and read your favourite East End Dick­ens scenes. The beer selec­tion is unex­cit­ing (Lon­don Pride and Greene King prod­ucts) but it’s in rea­son­ably good nick.

After the Prospect of Whit­by, we kept fol­low­ing the Thames Path east­ward. Wap­ping becomes Lime­house and on Nar­row Street we passed “The Nar­row”, once the home of the Tay­lor Walk­er “Bar­ley Mow brew­ery”, now a Gor­don Ram­sey gas­trop­ub. Maybe it’s nice, maybe it’s not. We did­n’t go in.

The Grapes, fur­ther along Nar­row Street, is claimed to be the inspi­ra­tion (or one of the inspi­ra­tions) for the “Six Jol­ly Fel­low­ship Porters” pub in Our Mutu­al Friend. We’ve got no pri­ma­ry evi­dence to sup­port this, but Zythophile is bold enough to repeat the sug­ges­tion. It’s def­i­nite­ly an old place (cur­rent build­ing from 1720), with a great atmos­phere and nice beers – among them, Lon­don Pride, TT Land­lord and a guest, this time Bate­man’s Valiant.

There’s a deck out the back where you can sit and hear (and occa­sion­al­ly feel) the Thames lap­ping up against the wall. It almost felt like we were beside the sea­side, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the stormy skies and chop­py water. Bliss. The first pho­to in this post was tak­en there.



The Cap­tain Kidd is at 108 Wap­ping High Street, E1W 2NE. Fur­ther west from here (no. 62) is anoth­er old pub, the Town of Rams­gate, which we found out about after­wards. That’s the dis­ad­van­tage of being spon­ta­neous and not plan­ning.

The Prospect of Whit­by is at 57 Wap­ping Wall, E1W 3SH. The near­est tube sta­tion for the Cap­tain Kidd and the Prospect of Whit­by would be Wap­ping, but it’s shut until 2010 for East Lon­don Line refur­bish­ment. Try Dock­lands Light Rail­way to Shad­well instead. Or have a bit of a walk from the City. You’re bound to see some­thing cool.

The Grapes is at 76 Nar­row Street, E14 8BP. Clos­est pub­lic trans­port is Lime­house DLR sta­tion.

We did­n’t have this walk­ing guide from the local coun­cil yes­ter­day. Might have been nice if we had!

8 thoughts on “A trio of East End riverside pubs (Wapping & Limehouse)”

  1. Nice pics, more than evoca­tive to me.….
    Made feel home­sick­ness from Britain. Thanks a lot for the mem­o­ries your pics brought to my mind.

    Haya Salud, ami­gos

  2. If you had called into the Town of Rams­gate, you would have seen their more enlight­ened beer pol­i­cy gives you are fair bit of choice as well as stan­dard brews. It is on my list to revis­it, but I got detained in the Cap­tain Kidd last time!

  3. Not cer­tain what the brew­house was on that Brew­house Lane either: it seems too far east to be con­nect­ed to the Red Lion brew­ery (Par­sons, and then Hoares), one of the “Big 12” Lon­don porter brew­ers, who were down Thomas More Street (then known as Low­er East Smith­field).

    I love the pewter bar­top in the Prospect of Whit­by: every pub should have one.

  4. Chela, Stonch – thanks! We might put a few more pic­tures up on our Picas­sa account.

    Tan­dle­man – I hope detained in a pleas­ant way?

    Zythophile (and any­one else who has a yen for this kind of thing) – we’ve found a cou­ple of ref­er­ences to the Star Brew­ery, New Crane, Wap­ping, includ­ing here. New Crane Steps / Place is a bit fur­ther east from Brew­house Lane, so I’m not that con­vinced it’s the same place.

    Per­haps it had stopped being a brew­ery ear­ly on? But the build­ings def­i­nite­ly look like a brew­ery com­plex of some kind.

  5. Fur­ther to the iden­ti­ty of the brew­ery on Brew­house Lane, it was Pickard & Co accord­ing to this map from c 1792

    Roberts Pickard & Mait­land accord­ing to this direc­to­ry from 1794

    and just Pickard & Mait­land in lat­er ref­er­ences.

    His­tor­i­cal fic­tion note: in Bernard Corn­well’s Sharpe books, the hero is said to have been brought iup in an orhan­age in Brew­house Lane, Wap­ping.

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