Poor King Billy

Poor King William IV gets a bit of a duff deal all round really. I mean, for starters, he’s the ‘boring’ monarch crammed in between George IV and Victoria that everyone forgets (though in reality he was quite a card), but in Greenwich the poor guy gets a particularly poor time. His slightly snigger-worthy statue is currently surrounded by scaffolding as something rather worrying happens to the ex-graveyard of St Mary’s Church, and the pub named after him in Trafalgar Road isn’t one of the classier hostelries in town.

Or should I say ‘wasn’t one of the classiest hostelries?’ For stuff is happening – or rather, isn’t happening, down Trafalgar-way.

For the past few weeks the place has been dark – devoid of the usual ne’er do wells and underagers hanging around outside, devoid of bunk beds crammed into dormitories upstairs, devoid of lights or, indeed, optics.

What’s gone/going on? Have they gone bust? Is it a refurb? Who can tell. All I know is that it doesn’t look at all well.

I think we need to be treading carefully here. This place, despite its unpleasant nature (who can forget those gullible-fool-baiting  white-goods ‘sales’ held at short notice on a Saturday evening when Trading Standards and the local constabulary were looking the other way…) is a really beautiful building – as Benedict’s close-ups  show.

It’s mid-late Victorian, with incredible mouldings, some absolutely lovely interior fittings and a splendid, totally inexplicable oval disc (can you have an ‘oval disc’?) at the top of the side. This could be a FABULOUS venue in the right hands. It suffers, granted, from having no exterior frontage (hence the dodgy blokes – and it did always seem to be blokes – hanging around outside) but even so, this has HUGE potential.

What I fear is that developers, such as the odious London Taverns Ltd will also see it as a having huge potential – as ‘luxury’ flats.

The worst possible thing that could happen is what happened to the Penny Black (for anyone new to the area, the Penny Black was a cute old London pub, opposite and a few doors along  from the King Billy which is now modern flats with a dead shop underneath it, ‘dead’ in this case meaning ‘never actually lived’.) Demolition of the William IV would have this Phantom in tears.

I confess I didn’t like the King William IV as a pub. But just imagine what it COULD be. The Feathers, the Vanbrugh, the Cutty Sark, and most recently, the Pelton Arms, have all reinvented themselves and become seriously enjoyable establishments in East Greenwich. I hope the King Billy will find its time.


the attachments to this post:

king william 3 low
king william 3 low

king william 2 low
king william 2 low

king william 1 low
king william 1 low


10 Comments to “Poor King Billy”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Hi Phantom.

    I’m finding every few posts or so the formatting goes crazy for Firefox, with text running off the white background and into a sea of black that then needs to be highlighted to be read. Anything that can be done about it?

  2. The Phantom Webmaster does know about this – but its being an intermittent problem is making it hard to pinpoint.

  3. The Penny Black? Did it have a previous name? (Sorry haven’t been back for years!)
    ps I get a similar problem to Jonathon in both Firefox and Safari on Mac 10.4.11 – if I then click on the date of a posted comment sometimes the whole thread comes up ok!

  4. Ah just been searching and it was The Victoria wasn’t it? Sad that’s gone though in my day it was slightly a “regulars only” kind of atmosphere (unfair perception I concede!) And now Hardy’s….! Hardly worth my while coming back now….

  5. Good lord – that shows how my memory’s slipping. I just remember the sign – you’re right – the Victoria – but it had a penny black sign. Must do one of those ‘improve your memory’ courses they advertise in the back pages of the Sunday newspapers…

  6. (apologies if this is a duplicate – browsers and cookies I think)
    Just been internet-searching and it was the Victoria I think? The sign was a Penny Black stamp now I remember. Sad that has gone although it seemed to have a slightly “regulars only” atmosphere (unfair!) They used to play Hardy’s in golf competitions I think(?) And now Hardy’s going….. It’s not really worth my while coming back now!

  7. Darryl says:

    It certainly was The Victoria – a dusty little locals’ boozer.

    The William was a rotten old pub; surprised it’s bitten the dust this side of the World Cup, to be honest. It’d be lovely to see someone take it on and give it a boost, but they’d have a hard job getting some of the old punters (it took a long time for the Pelton to shake off its shadier clientele).

    But as the Prince Albert experience shows – be careful what you wish for…

  8. Benedict says:

    ahh…the King Willy….it does have a lot of potential if memory serves. I seem to remember a load of original features inside, solid wood bar, dado rails, cornice and ceiling mouldings, from the one occasion I had a swift half in there ( and it was only a half not the usual 2 pints a swift half calls for).
    Also its not just Greenwich that suffers from the developers urge to modernise and maximise footprint/square footage, we are fighting them “on the Beaches” (Toronto) aswell.

  9. scarletmanuka says:

    Perhaps a certain local ‘not a chain’ company might consider taking it over to create another dull, unimaginative, money making, yet doesn’t pay staff on time, establishment? Surely it’s only a matter of time before he creeps into East Greenwich?

  10. queenbeebear says:

    Wasnt Hardys the Bricklayers arms? Beloved of Greenwiches Hippies and Punks in the mid to late 70s? One half of it was “Harrys Bar” where they had a brilliant dukebox, and a dungeon like atmosphere, that us underage drinkers benefitted from. A landmark pub for many of us I think!