Just over a year ago I posted this piece, about Dead Pubs of West London. It’s an updated version of something I created for a Quiz Night at my children’s primary school back in 2012. There are pictures of buildings where pubs used to be, and of old buildings that became bars at some point in the last 25 years. The challenge was to match up the pictures with a list of pub names and to identify which buildings had previously served as the Police Station and the Fire Station, and which at the time were serving beer and food.
If you have spent any time in this part of the world you might want to take the challenge, or just check out some of the locations where people could buy beer in the past, but no longer can.
Last year’s piece noted the changes that had occurred between 2012 and 2017. For example, All Bar One, which stood on the site of the old Fire Station, is now a pub called The Fire Station. If that had been true in 2012 the quiz round wouldn’t have been the same. In the last 13 months there have been three further changes:
- Carvosso’s at 210 (on the corner of the High Road and Windmill Road, formerly the Police Station) currently stands empty, having closed in the second half of 2017.
- Le Pain Quotidien (“bakery and communal table” on the opposite corner of the High Road and Windmill Road, formerly The Windmill and Jack Stamps Beer House) also stands empty, having closed in the first half of 2018.
- 18/20 High Road (which was empty for many years and had previously been a Pitcher & Piano and a bar called Revolution) is now a restaurant / bar called George’s Diner.
The rate at which pubs across the UK have closed in recent years is regularly covered in the news, and so is the rise of coffee shops. One story earlier this year that featured heavily in the media noted that there are more coffee shops and fewer pubs than there have ever been before, and if things carry on as they are, the former could outnumber the latter by 2030.
As far back as 2009 I recall hearing that pubs were shutting down at a rate of 35-40 per week, with at least one pub per day in London closing for good. At the time I wondered how you would hear about these things in advance. Could you make a tour of those pubs with less than a month left in them and document how they got to that state? Typically you only find out that a place has shut after the fact, unless you’re a regular, and despite all the hours that I have spent in pubs I could never be described a regular at any of them.
In a number of pieces over the last 18 months or so I have recorded how I visited, or revisited, every pub in my postcode during a five month period. It didn’t start out as a “project” but it became one, and I should add it to my Projects Menu at some point. The circumstances that took me to every local watering-hole at least once between December 2016 and May 2017 included my son’s willingness to spend time in them, and he also had at least one soft drink in each one during that time. If he had his way we would be down the pub every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but during the last month we have made just two such trips. The first was to catch part of Fulham’s play-off final victory over Aston Villa over the Bank Holiday weekend, and the other was to watch the second half of Kilkenny losing rather heavily to Galway in this new-format round robin stage of the Leinster Hurling Championship. (Pints of beer consumed by me: 2. Volume of fizzy drinks consumed by him: 660ml, or just over a pint.)
Having visited every pub in our postcode (Chiswick W4) we have made occasional trips further afield over the last 18 months. The nearest areas with London postcodes are Acton (W3), Hammersmith (W6) and Shepherds Bush (W12). Brentford, the next parish heading west, has a postcode beginning TW, for Twickenham. While drafting this piece I began to document some of these trips to other locations, and to record the Dead Pubs that I was aware of, but it grew to over 2000 words. I have broken it down into smaller chunks, and in the days ahead will publish individual pieces covering Dead Pubs of W3, W6 and W12.
In the meantime, the only other alteration to the pub scene in W4 over the last year has been a change of name at a place that, during my childhood, was called The Queen’s Head. At some point in the 1980s it was rebranded with its old nickname, The Hole in the Wall. It later changed to the Sutton Lane Bistro, reverted back to The Hole in the Wall for many years, and then was briefly known as The Smokehouse. It’s now called the Queens’ Head. Again. It has never, to my knowledge, been a Dead Pub.