“The Cook’s Ferry Inn? Why do I know The Cook’s Ferry Inn? Oh, yeah – because there’s a roundabout named after it.”
Variations on this statement are fairly common. Baker’s Arms, Green Man, Charlie Brown’s Roundabout – they’re all over London, certainly.
We came across the mention of The Cook’s Ferry Inn in The House of Whitbread magazine for April 1928, a new acquisition for our little library.
It has an eleven-and-a-half page photo feature on the launch of an ‘improved’ incarnation of this old pub at Edmonton, North London, on the way to Chingford. That’s the source of the images in this post.
“The Cook’s Ferry, Edmonton, reproduced from an old print of uncertain date.”
The old pub seems to have been built in the 18th century as a waterside pub and was a local landmark throughout the 19th century. It was also popular with anglers.
In the inter-war years, it was decided to build a great north circular road to connect newly populous outer London neighbourhoods, open up space for industry and provide jobs. In 1927, the stretch between Angel Road, Edmonton, and Billet Road, Chingford was opened.
“The old Cook’s Ferry… showing its position as the new arterial road was being constructed.” Photo by E.A. Beckett of Loughton.
The rebuilding of the Cook’s Ferry Inn was made necessary by the fact that the new road was higher than the narrow old lane it replaced.
In 1928, this was a grand, well-appointed pub – part of Whitbread’s commitment to make pubs bigger, smarter and more respectable.
“A view of the Cook’s Ferry showing the new arterial road looking towards Walthamstow.” Photo by Larkin Bros.
Saloon Bar. Photo by Larkin Bros.
Public bar. Photo by E.A. Beckett.
Dining room. Photo by Larkin Bros.
The kitchen, with Whitbread branded rubbish bin. We’re not sure we’ve seen a photo of an inter-war pub kitchen before. Photo by E.A. Beckett.
After World War II, like many of these hard-to-fill inter-war pubs, it had become ‘scruffy’ and morphed into a music venue.
First, it was a jazz club, founded by musician Freddy Randall and his brother Harry in the 1940s.
Then, in the 1960s, it became associated with ‘beat music’, mods and pop music, with performances by bands such as Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and The Who.
Finally, in the 1970s, the North Circular was widened and the pub was demolished. Now, the spot where it stood is all concrete flyover and brambles.
Even the channel of water it once stood beside has gone.
Still, the name lives on, just about, on bus stops, road signs and maps.