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Romford pubs and their history

I thought I would select a couple of pubs in Romford and dissect their history. Good old Romford, originally in Essex, later a London borough of Havering. It is famously twinned with Ludwigschafen in Germany.

The Ind Coope Brewery arrived in Romford in 1799; acquiring the Star Brewery. This closed in 1993.

I will start the discussion with the Bitter End, apparently named thus in 1999. It changed its name previously in 1997 to the Ford & Firkin. I remember it as the White Hart. It is in the High street, virtually opposite Woolworths, and with Wilding Typewriters & 'Wilson & Whitworth' stationers at the front entrance (now Maplin).  If you wander along the High street, you will also pass the offices of the original Romford Brewery.

The Bitter End, High street, Romford in 2014 - the market place is in the distance and the Golden Lion can be seen to the left

The Bitter End, High street, Romford in 2014 - the market place is in the distance and the Golden Lion can be seen to the left

A short distance up the road towards the market place is the Golden Lion, another famous old stage coach inn. The Golden Lion was run by Peter Reynolds between 1867 and 1899. He was synonymous with many other Essex / East London pubs through the years, including the Cauliflower in Ilford where his father (Peter Reynolds) is listed from at least 1826 to 1862, and then his younger brother, Charles Reynolds, until 1898. The 1882 directory lists Peter Reynolds, Golden Lion Hotel, wholesale & retail wine & spirit merchant, post horses & traps of every description, horses jobbed by day, month or year, High Street.

According to the 1937 Borough of Romford souvenir booklet, there is a claim that Colonel Blood, who stole the Royal Crown from the Tower, fled and remained in hiding in, it is said, a building in the Market place, which in later days the Romford Local Board of Health held their first meeting. There are similar claims on the internet that he took the name of Ayloffe in 1670, and practised as a doctor in Romford.

The White Hart in the High street can be traced back to 1489 according to documents held by the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford. The ERO has a brilliant online database of Essex material and images, i.e. SEAX. My first confirmed records (which are referenced here) are in 1791 when a William Nunn is listed as the licensee. Between 1823 and 1833 a John Ashton is recorded; and from 1839 to 1851 George Taverner is the Inn Keeper - he is listed at various pubs before becoming a bankrupt. In the 1861 census, Joseph Cowland is recorded as the Hotel Keeper until about 1867. By the 1871 census, John Hawley is again describing himself as an Inn Keeper. In 1873- 4 James Seaward also describes himself as a Wine & Spirit Merchant.

What is significant is that the White Hart has two entrances, the front being narrow, but wide enough for a horse & cart. The rear has an entrance to a large car park & previous stabling.

The rear of the White Hart & stabling

The rear of the White Hart & stabling

By 1877 until 1882, William Henry Fox is again the Hotel Keeper of the White Hart. He is followed by John Patching, listed as a Licensed Victualler here until the 1891 census. In 1896 the White Hart is rebuilt. This is about the time that John William Joyce becomes the licensee or proprietor. He is replaced by Henry E Crane by 1908 who first describes himself as a wine & Spirit Merchant, and by 1910 also adds Motor Garage to his entitlements. Random other licensees owned and ran the pub. I remember it best in the 1970s when it was just another pub in Romford.

High Street, Romford - circa 1920 to 1930

A view of the High street in about 1920-30, a postcard with the famous ebay logo. I think the White Hart is on the right

And a better picture of the White Hart looking towards the Brewery offices. The whole of Romford Brewery was sold and shipped to China. They now have the envy of Watneys Red Barrel, and probably prefer their rice wine! The Brewery site is now a modern retail site, aptly called the Brewery.

The White Hart is on the left as are the Brewery offices. Virtually opposie was F J Woolworth

The White Hart is on the left as are the Brewery offices. Virtually opposite was F J Woolworth

A last word on this part of the High street. It has been through many changes over the years, most for the worst. Sometime before I was born, and before I moved to Romford, a major store existed as Woolworths. My claim to fame is being left in this store at closing time, by my elder sisters. When asked why they could not just wait for me to exit, they explained that I was a baby in a pram, and could they please come in!

More recently, the duo Simon and garfunkel were known as local folk singers, and in their early days, they regularly played above the Lamb, in the Market place. And a little later, David Bowie played at the Romford Odeon, in South street. I bet that was brilliant.

And Last updated on: Tuesday, 02-May-2017 19:35:22 BST