Below: we record a success, welcome an addition, rectify an omission, regret some closures, update some wobblers, report some progress and dig up some history.
The successThe undoubted pub success of the last year has been the opening of the Forest Tavern, on the site of the old down-at-heel Railway Tavern. Bought by the London chain of gastro-pub, shabby chic specialists, Antic, eighteen months ago, the pub opened last September, to much local acclaim, and affirmations that gentrification was finally arriving in Forest Gate.
It's a pub and chain that listens to its customers. So, bit by bit has added a restaurant, an interesting range of bar snacks, entertainment nights (Forest Gap, comedy and quiz nights), a monthly record fair, a good, tasty range of real ales, ciders etc. and most recently a (rather uninspiring) back garden. There's no piped music or intrusive TV, so lots of animated chat and conviviality, from an overwhelmingly white, middle class clientele.
|Great success: Forest Tavern|
But, the venue has certainly become a favoured meeting place, and big hit with so many who have been frustrated at Forest Gate's lack of a decent pub, over the years.
The bravest initiative over the last year, however, has undoubtedly been the roar-away success of the Wanstead Tap. Stuck out of the way (352 Winchelsea Road - round the corner from the Holly Tree - see below), in a railway arch (surrounded by car repairers), with trains rumbling overhead, and no beer on tap. Madness; a guaranteed failure by someone who didn't have a clue; a certain money loser, failure, bankruptcy inducer and early closure.
How wrong! A real welcome awaits from a delightful mine host and friends and relatives; coffee shop and toy and game-packed environment for those with toddler care in afternoons and a huge and absolutely delightful range of bottled beers and ciders in the evenings for drinkers. Here's a beer seller, who loves his job and is ever on the look-out for new stock to add to his already very impressive range.
|Unlikely success: Wanstead tap|
If you haven't been - don't delay. But not because the much predicted closure beckons!
The omissionLots of flack for a key omission from last year's listing - the Holly Tree on Dames Road. Although (like the Wanstead Tap, above) not in Newham, it is in Forest Gate, and there has been a pub on the site since at least 1870 - so mea culpa. Here's a quick addition to last year's listings.
|Last year's omission: The Holly Tree, Dames Road|
There's an outside garden, which overlooks Wanstead Flats and hosts popular barbeques in the summer. It even has some simple children's play equipment. One of the best features of the pub is the large conservatory extension, offering pleasant, airy views of the Flats.
The closuresIt was almost inevitable that there would be losers and closures over the year, following the national trend. And so it has been. Within four months of last year's article, the Live and Let Live (or "The Live", as it was generally known) died and is currently boarded up (see photo), with no sign of a new licensee, or even new use, in sight. A real shame, not only to see a pub with history go, but one in what is rapidly becoming the scruffiest, most unwelcoming parts of Forest Gate.
|Dying on its feet: The Live and Let Live|
But no - it has followed the trend running in former pubs such as the Princess Alice - a little further down the road - and become and Asian restaurant. It looks smart (as the photo shows) and has only recently opened, so it's very much, watch this space to see how it prospers. But, one more local pub closure confirmed.
|From Wagon and Horses to Temptaions, |
now just the Family Grill, Romford Road
As predicted last year, the most likely victim of the Forest Tavern's success was the Fox and Hounds, almost next door, on Forest Lane. And so it has proved to be. Enterprise (a company that leases pubs to landlords/tenants) has recently posted details on its website of the availability of the pub, as a new business challenge for somebody.
Their website puts its best spin on what's on offer "This is a real 'heart of the community' traditional 1930's public house, with an original U-shape central bar, tons of original features, fireplaces, warmth and charm. It also benefits from a rear paved ('secret') garden, and well maintained three bed private accommodation."
|Up for grabs, with £1,000 a week running costs|
Watch this space, for a forthcoming closure or very serious competition for the Forest Tavern.
The old Freemason's Arms (called Simpsons from the 1980's until around 2000), 324 Romford Road was boarded up at the time of last year's pub round up. It still is, albeit with a scaffold-supported roof cover now. It is not clear what will happen to this building, but a re-emergence as a pub seems highly unlikely.
|Simpsons, further down the road of dereliction|
In summary then, Forest Gate now supports only 6 pubs: Forest Gate Hotel (Sebert Road) , Forest Tavern (Forest Lane), Fox and Hounds (Forest Lane), Golden Fleece (Capel Road), Holly Tree (Dames Road) and Hudson Bay (Upton Lane) , and one pub-like establishment (Wanstead Tap, Winchelsea Road).
The standing and operating
Progress report: Old Spotted Dog, Upton LaneThe Grade 11 listed former pub continues to be boarded up, and remains in the hands of a liquidator, who having held it for about seven years, is trying to dispose of the site. There have been some pre-planning application enquiries about using the car park area for residential accommodation, but these have not progressed. The liquidators have been helpful to the local campaign to save/reopen the pub, who report that, despite its outward appearance, it seems fairly watertight inside and not too structurally damaged.
|Fighting for survival and refurbing: The Old Spotted Dog|
Updated historyMeanwhile, this website provides details of additional, Forest Gate pubs, that have been closed over the last century, that did not feature in last year's listing, and provides further details and photographs of some of those already covered. Huge thanks to them for their painstaking work.
The Builders' Arms, 47 Station Road, Forest Gate. There was a pub here, from at least 1874 until 1934. Its last recorded publican was Herbert Henry Webb. There are now garages, attached to flats built on the former pub site.
Camden Arms, 70 Field Road. Although we recorded this pub, which closed in 2008, we didn't have photo of it. Below is one (thanks to Stephen Harris). There was a pub on this site, although clearly at least one pre-dating the one in the photo, from at least 1870. There are now flats built on the site of the old pub
|Camden Arms, after closure|
Earl of Derby, Station Road, Forest Gate. The fate of this pub caused a little controversy following last year's posting, when we described it as having been subsequently tuned into a nursery. The photo below (thanks to Stephen Harris) confirms this fact. The pub was managed in the 1930's by former World Bantamweight Boxing champion, Teddy Baldock, who had to hand it back to the brewery during World War 11, when custom dried up.
|Let there be no doubt, what was |
the Earl of Derby is now a nursery!
The Globe, 40 Chestnut Avenue. There was, what must have been a small, pub on this site, according to trade directories from 1871 - 1886. The building remains, as a house.
|It's a small world: site |
of The Globe, Chestnut Road
Golden Horse, 111 Forest Lane. A pub of that name was listed at this location in trade directories from 1861 - 1934, and continued until the 1950s. The pub and a large area of Odessa and Wellington Roads were bombed in the second World War, and prefabs and a prefabricated Golden Horse were ereceted on the site. They have subsequently been demolished ard the area is now occupied by St James' school playground.
Jolly Smiths - Field Road. This pub existed between 1871 and 1885, until its publican, Edward Prince surrendered his licence to local magistrates. We don't have its exact location, unfortunately.
Parliament House, 1 Parliament Place, which subsequently became 63 Forest Street, by the 1911 census. A pub of this name was located there from 1871 - 1944. For a lengthy time at the end of the nineteenth century it was in the hands of the Burren family, who were landlords of a number of pubs in Kent and elsewhere in East London. The site of this former pub is now occupied by part of Forest Gate Community School.
The Plough, 55 Field Road. There was a pub here from 1871 - 1887. It is now the Al Dubbagh Indian restaurant and take-away.
|Once The Plough, now and Indian take-away|
Railway Bell, 129 Forest Lane, 1877 - 1886. This site is now residential accommodation.
|The former Railway Bell, Forest Lane|
|Site of Travellers' Rest, Cemetery Road|