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?