The Three Mariner’s pub sits in a maze of dark cobbled alleyways not far from the Thames. The smell of fish, tar and sea-water is powerful, and you can hear the shouts of Thames boatmen, the clattering of masts and the clatter of cargo being unloaded on the dockside.
The pub looks inviting, candlelit and cosy, promising shelter from the gloomy and rather intimidating wharfside rat runs.
It’s small — there’s only one table and two chairs — but there’s plenty of leaning space at the bar.
Behind the bar, there are tankards and stone mugs, and four unlabelled hand pumps. There are crates filled with bottles of porter stacked against the back wall.
It’s like the pubs Sherlock Holmes visits in the Basil Rathbone films of the 1940s and the atmosphere is terrific.
Sadly, you can’t actually have a pint at the Mariner’s Arms. It’s part of a permanent exhibit at the Museum in Docklands, near Canary Wharf, and represents a typical 19th century sailors’ pub. It’s worth a visit if you’re interested in the history of London, especially as they’ve got an exhibition on Jack the Ripper until November. It’s not as creepy as it sounds — it’s really an exhibition of East End life and policing in the 1880s. We especially liked the map of London’s pubs produced by the Temperance Society in the 1880s. It’s entitled simply “The Modern Plague of London”. There’s an extract of it available here.