Pub Nicknames

I was reading an old guidebook from the 1970s (Greenwich…A Closer Look, by Carson Ritchie) the other day, part of a job lot of assorted stuff I got on Ebay when I still did Ebay, which had clearly been amassed by someone as bonkers about Greenwich as me – dozens of bits of memorabilia – leaflets, books and typed notes from guided walks when Greenwich was still largely industrial. Each item was clearly labelled with its previous owner’s name – Beverly A. Battersby – anyone heard of her? and the collection itself is now a prized Phantom possession. None of the items are worth much in pure cash, but if I were to try to find virtually anything from it, I’d have an absolute nightmare.

But onto Greenwich…A Closer Look. I confess it’s been one of the last ones to read, mainly because it has a very pretty, official-looking cover and there’s something about old typed notes mimeographed in purple ink slipped inbetween the pages of another book that draws me in first. To be frank, it’s a book of its time, and most of it’s a bit-so-so. There are better general guides around. What drew my eye, though, was the last couple of pages where he talks about the practicalities of visiting Greenwich in the 1970s.

He describes a cornucopia of quirk – book stores and antique shops – “Greenwich is a place where antique shops open overnight,” he says, just to depress me. Now it seems that shops of all descriptions close overnight, though it wasn’t so very long ago that there was more than a handful of junk shops and book havens in Greenwich

I was intrigued by the list of eateries no longer extant around here – Orton’s Kitchen in Nelson road “which attracts many young people – piped music and a fair range of healthy foods,” Diks, also in Nelson Road, which, ”for less that £1 includes three courses and coffee”, MacDonalds (no – not that one, the one that was where Vietnam is in King William Walk – we saw the old sign when they were tarting it up recently – Ritchie describes it as “conventional, rather dull, but cheap”) and “for those who persist in trying to do Europe on $5 a day” the Terminus in Church St.

He lists some of his favourite pubs and their breweries, and in that finally lies the subject of today’s post. I seem to have rambled on rather longer than usual this morning. Hey – it’s a Friday.

He describes the King’s Head in King William Walk as “universally and mysteriously known as the The Bunker.” I have never heard this expression. Is it still known as such? I can only guess as to its origin – maybe it was used as an air-raid shelter in the war? Who knows – clearly Carson Ritchie didn’t either.

But that brings me onto other pub nicknames – and how they can seemingly get made and lost within a generation. Off the top of my head I can only think of one other – the Richard I, in Royal Hill, AKA the Tolly (I have always believed the name’s from the pub’s days as a Tolly Cobbold house but I’m sure that someone will put me right if I’m wrong) but maybe you can think of some nicknames for local hostelries I’ve forgotten?


10 Comments to “Pub Nicknames”

  1. Stephen aka. Latelygay says:

    Well, over Blackheath way, there’s the chained ‘O’Neills’ which until c.1995 happily stood for a couple of centuries or more as The Three Tuns.

    Also from my student days in Liverpool I used to drink at a pub called The Grapes in Egerton Street, but it was known by the locals only as Peter Kavanaghs.

    A good pub by any name is becoming so much of a rarity these days. Despite having lived in Blackheath fourteen years I’ve never been keen on drinking there.

  2. Kat says:

    Has anyone found a solution for those experiencing problems with the formatting of your site yet? I have upgraded my web browser, cleared cache, cookies etc and yet it still only shows the first few parragraphs of text on its white background before going to blackness which can then only be read by manually highlighting bits of text. All your past blogs are obscured into blackness also – really frustrating as I cant for the life of me figure out how to make it return to normal. :-S Any help much appreciated!

  3. marmoset says:

    Yes, it was the only Tolly Cobbold house in the area. It was always the Richard 1 as well but nobody ever seemed to call it that.

    Kat, I still get the occasional formatting problem and then it disappears again before I can get a message through to the phantom webmaster. Have you tried going back to the home page and then returning to the individual post page? That seems to work from time to time.

  4. Bill Ellson says:

    Miss Beverly Anne Battersby friend of Lambeth Palace Library, donated items to St Anrews University Museum, died c2006. Resident in Greenwich seven or eight years ago.

    Donated money for the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall. Planted a tree in Hyde Park see photograph (of her) on page 9 of:
    http://www.royalparksfoundation.org/support/foundation/p_releases/winter.pdf

  5. Benedict says:

    Bill?
    There was the Charley Mow on Royal Hill becauase of the “powders” available. The Admiral Tardy in the market because of the really slow service. The Might err, because we were never sure whether we should go or not.

  6. Kat says:

    Thanks, as you said, after a period of about 2 weeks where I have had the blackness, this afternoon it has reverted to normal :) guess its just something quirky to get used to on this site ;)

  7. Thank you Bill. I hope she wouldn’t be too upset to know that her entire collection now forms the core of the Phantom Library…

  8. Adrian says:

    One of the pubs on Royal Hill (where the Union is now?) was known as “The Candles”. I forget which.

    By the way, I also find the formatting problem in Chrome.

  9. Steve says:

    Sadly, I too am still experiencing sporadic formatting problems on this site. No obvious cause or cure either.

  10. Steve says:

    The Royal George was known as the “Little George”, I presume because of the George and Dragon (“Big George”?)pub nearby.

    A little further afield, The Royal Oak in Bexleyheath is known to all as the “Polly Clean Stairs”.

    Re: the comment about drinking in Blackheath – it’s best to venture a little out of the village, I’ve found. The Dacre Arms towards Lee/Lewisham is lovely, and the British Oak is a good bet in the other direction…