Back in 2017 I posted this piece about Dead Pubs of West London. It was based on a round of questions that I had set five years earlier for a Quiz Night at the primary school that my children attended. It featured photographs of buildings in this part of town. Most of them had either been pubs at some point in my lifetime or were built on the site of pubs that had been pulled down. There were also two buildings (formerly the fire station and the police station) which had been converted into bars.
In 2018 I offered this update, noting the changes that had occurred in the previous 12 months. The most significant change was that the bar on the site of the former police station had closed. Writing now, in June 2020, nearly three months into lockdown, almost every pub is closed. They shut their doors on Friday 20 March and they have, almost without exception, remained closed to the public since then.
There are only two exceptions that I know about that are within 30 minutes’ walking distance, and both are in the London W6 postcode: The Duchess (formerly the Duchess of Cambridge) on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Bath Road and The Black Lion by the river in Hammersmith. The former has been open for takeaways for most of lockdown. It has also been operating as a shop during the day, selling bread, fruit and vegetables and other essentials. Back in April, when supermarkets were regularly running out of flour and hand sanitizer, the Duchess always seemed to have them in stock. Along with its usual menu (burgers, fish & chips, vegetarian curry, roasts on Sunday) the pub was also selling draught beer (2 pints for £6.50) in takeaway containers. The one Friday in early May when I might have bought fish & chips there, they had sold out by 7.30pm. Since then our local chip shop has reopened, so we have not had a takeaway from The Duchess. Still, in April and May it was comforting to know that it was there.
The Black Lion is more of a walk – too far to walk home with a burger and chips – and it is also serving takeaway food and drinks. I hear that the area around it was heaving a couple of weekends ago with weekend drinkers – no chance of keeping 2m away from them all. My wife reports that it was a similar scene a week or two back on the other side of the river, at the Watermans Arms on Barnes High Street. The pavements around there are narrow so, again, there was no chance of keeping 2m away from the afternoon drinkers. It’s more than a 45-minute walk to that part of town so I don’t count it as a local watering-hole.
I will be interested to see which pubs reopen whenever they are allowed to operate normally again. Between May 2018 and March 2020 none of the local pubs that featured in previous pieces had gone to the wall. In fact, we regained two pubs. The former police station, known as “Carvosso’s at 210” until it closed in early 2018, had reopened by the spring of 2019 as The Crown. And the former Café Rouge in Strand-on-the-Green, near Kew Bridge, has reverted to its original name (The Steam Packet) and is operating as a regular pub again.
Between my last Dead Pubs update in 2018 and January of this year, I revisited every pub in my postcode (London W4), and took photos of what remains after a pint of beer and a packet of crisps have been dealt with. The starting-point for this “project” was this piece about the “4-Ring Man”. It compares contours on Ordnance Survey-style maps (which show how steep a gradient is) with the rings left behind when someone is drinking a pint of stout. Many of the photos have been gathered together in four pieces dating from January 2019 to February 2020. The last of them, here, has links to the other three, and also noted that I wasn’t planning to add to them for a while.
I am glad that I managed to get at least one photo in every local pub while they were still open. I suspect that some of them will not survive the current emergency. Whenever bars and restaurants are allowed to open fully, I hope to document their progress. In the meantime, every pub in W4 is, at the very least, in a coma. Some of them will probably not regain consciousness.