Lorna And Some Fancy Woolwich Road Ironmongery

A couple of weeks ago we were talking about pub nicknames (from an old book I was reading which mentioned that the King’s Head was known locally as The Bunker.) The very fine Julian Watson and I have been discussing another. He says:

“Barbara Ludlow told me many years ago how puzzled she was when her father used to say he was going to the Lorna. She knew it was a pub but was unable to find it. Much later a friend told her that he went to the Lord Napier which was pronounced locally Lor Napeer or more frequently the Lorna.”

Julian and I found ourselves scratching our heads as to where the Lord Napier actually was. We knew it used to be in Woolwich Road, but the pair of us suffered a collective brain blackout as to where

I found myself wondering whether it could be connected to some fancy ironwork I’d noticed on the East Greenwich Library end. First, and most obvious, was an old sign-fitting jutting out from above the New Hong Kong Garden Chinese Takeaway on the corner of Chevening Road. It seems as though it would have been an obvious place for a pub – opposite the entrance to the Royal Hospital Cemetery, on a corner where there isn’t a pub for – well – at least a couple of streets (the Victorians/Edwardians did love their pubs…)

I can’t tell how old the sign-holder is, but it’s rather lovely. Take a peek next time you’re passing.

My other thought – and this was clutching at straws a bit – was even further east, above the convenience store opposite East Greenwich library:

Smaller, that one, and in the middle of a row – didn’t really feel like somewhere a pub would be – especially given the close proximity to the Angerstein.  Still quite nice, though:

 Neither of my choices really seemed right. Besides, the only reference online says that it’s now a “noddle bar” (sic).

The Woolwich Road carries on beyond the motorway, into Charlton and I began to wonder whether that ex-all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet just after the railway bridge on Aldeburgh St could be the culprit. You know – the one that is currently being converted in the most dodgy way imaginable into what could pass as a dwelling. Again – it didn’t really seem right, but I was completely lost.

It took Charlton expert Darryl from 853 Blog to put me right. I truly do not know how I managed to have a total brainstorm over this one – I guess I just had it in my spectral head that it was in Charlton. He says

“The Lord Napier was at the corner of Calvert Road and Woolwich Road - that noodle bar. The pub shut around 2001 – it got an exterior facelift out of millennium money, but didn’t last for much more than a year afterwards. Never went in there myself, although a pal’s dad was its darts champion.”

So – where the Wing Wah is now. Darryl even manages to clear up what the nasty buffet was…

“The little place at the junction of Aldeburgh Street was Jools Hollands’ favourite caff – Frank’s Cafe, if I remember rightly.  There’s three ex-pubs at the Charlton end of Woolwich Road – the Watermans Arms (demolished, opposite the Antigallican), Horse and Groom (a dump, bottom of Charlton Lane),  and the Victoria (the shell opposite Maryon Park) – but no others on the Greenwich side.”

…and pass on a little snippet of gossip:

“Incidentally, the William IV is due to be turned into a “sports pub” according to a story I heard last night. The furniture has been sold to the guy who runs the Pelton Arms.”

So no real change at the William IV’s clientele, I’m guessing, it’ll just lose some of it’s rather pretty Victorian interior…

Doff of the tricorn to Darryl for reminding me of the bloomin’ obvious.

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6 Comments to “Lorna And Some Fancy Woolwich Road Ironmongery”

  1. Mary says:

    Yeah – the Wing Wah used to be the Lord Napier. That is the reason that Wing Wah could open the way they did because the premises had an existing pub licence for food.
    In the 1970s Greenwich Labour Party members used to go there after meetings in 32 Woolwich Road. Barbara Ludlow’s dad, Bill Wellard, was a local leading Party member, as was her uncle Arthur. (Her uncle Charlie was an active local communist)

    I remember one night a fight broke out among (non Labour Party) customers in the front bar. Guy Barnett MP was at that tine a junior minister and about 100 police motorbikes turned up and whisked him away from the scene of the fight. They never even called an ambulance for a drinker who was lying on the ground unconscious – and he had to be revived by a doctor member of the Party.

  2. scared of chives says:

    “…I remember one night a fight broke out among (non Labour Party) customers”

    but of course


  3. Polar Bear says:

    Hmmm….. I’m in a very confused state (not unusual) but I was convinced that the Wing Wah Buffet DIDN’T used to be the Napier. I am struggling to remember what I seem to think it was so did a little internet search.

    If you go on to http://www.useyourlocal.com they have an old listing for The Lord Napier Public House at 630 Woolwich Road, SE10 0JU and even give a phone number: 020 8858 0042. Admittedly I haven’t called the number.

    Wing Wah is at 6 Woolwich Road.

    Trust me, I don’t think I’m correct but as everything on the internet is obviously true I was wondering if there were two ‘Napiers or if this was a simple error?????

    I await to be corrected.

  4. Darryl says:

    630 Woolwich Road would be in Charlton, beyond Charlton Church Lane. Before the eastern stretch of Woolwich Road was turned into a dual carriageway in the mid-1990s, there was a long row of terraced housing between the Horse and Groom and (roughly) the Morris Walk Estate, and they were numbered in the 700s.

  5. Darryl says:

    Oh – and it’s a pleasure to be of use!

  6. [...] the boatyards used to be. Or you can go hunting for long-gone pubs (or, for the Greenwich Phantom, the Lord Napier) and churches, or see what the area contributed – and lost – through wars through the [...]