The Thames Pub

Jenny has a curious but cool address – the old Thames Pub in Norway St. The poor old place has been dead for some time now, but I’m encouraged to hear that its owners don’t seem to have plans to demolish just at the moment. She says:

“We’re guardians for a company called Camelot which puts tenants into empty buildings to protect them from squatters. I’m rather fond of the place, and would like to find out more about it. I learnt from a taxi driver that it used to be inhabited by squatters, the last one being a prostitute who used to work the bridge over the creek… As for its earlier history, or even its age, though, I have no idea.”

I’ve discovered in my albeit paltry searches over the years that pubs are one of the hardest types of building to find anything out about. However historic they may be, they’ve always been working buildings; no one’s really had time to write histories of them. I’ve been reduced to tears on all sorts of Greenwich pubs, trying to find anything more than basics about them – and a pub called something like The Thames is a particular pig to google as you just get lists of pubs in Greenwich that are on the river.

I can’t even try to look at its old name (as engraved on the outside) The Rose & Crown – all searches are superimposed by the Rose & Crown we still have on the corner of Nevada and Stockwell Streets.

My guess, looking at it, is that it’s mid to late Victorian which would make it date back to when that particular area was very dodgy indeed. The appropriately-named ‘Dark Entry’ was exactly that – a long, dangerous conduit between two dockyards with high brick walls either side. There were any number of pubs to keep the dockers refreshed, and although there are a lot of excellent pictures of these in Julian Watson/Kit Gregory’s In the Meantime, including some marvellously murky photos of alleys like Dark Entry and Brewhouse Lane (the closest we have these days is the much-cleaned up Turnpin Lane) there’s nothing of the Thames.

I have great hopes for the pub though. When the development has finished, hopefully there will be enough people to make reopening it viable. It’s a nice-looking boozer, all it needs is a bit of TLC and a sympathetic guvnor. We could even get a Greenwich-side-of-the-creek Dog & Bell…

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