You say Coldharbour, I say Cold Harbour

We better get this out of the way immediately; I am sure some of you may be asking yourself, “Is Cold Harbour actually a part of the Isle of Dogs?” It’s a valid question – the area has always been isolated from the rest of the Island, and it does have a different feel to it in some respects, heightened by the number of old and sometimes very large houses it contains and the distinct lack of post-war council housing. Not just a different place, but from a different time perhaps (after all, it is the oldest surviving street on the Island).

Deciding on what constitutes the boundaries of the Isle of Dogs has been keeping hundreds (well, a handful) occupied since time began (er…..since Facebook was invented). Being an avid collector of all things to do with Island history, I decided a long time ago that I needed to draw the line somewhere, if only for my own peace of mind. West, south, and east are easy – no arguing with the route of the Thames – and I also decided it should be water that defines the northern boundary; an Island has got to be surrounded by water, right? That made it easier – my Isle of Dogs is bounded in the north by the north side of the Limehouse Entrance Lock, the West India Import Dock, Blackwall Basin and the Blackwall Entrance Lock. (Don’t look for the Limehouse Entrance Lock on a map, by the way, it was filled in decades ago. Westferry Circus is now on its site.) By this definition, Cold Harbour is a part of the Isle of Dogs.

This 1890 map also supports why I spell the streetname Cold Harbour and not Coldharbour. It was always spelled with two words, until the 1950s, when the council replaced the two or three street signs, and misspelled the name. There was no decision to rename the street, it was simply a spelling mistake. This still happens – recently, a street elsewhere on the Island was suddenly spelled “Saundersness Road” – but, with social networking and email and other electrickery, it was not too difficult to bring it to the attention of those who could correct it.

So what, actually, is a Cold Harbour (a common placename throughout the British Isles, sometimes corrupted into Coal or Cole Harbour)? Harbour has nothing to do with shipping – it means harbour in the sense of a refuge, from the Middle English herbergeCold is from a Saxon word, cealt, which means not only cold as in temperature, but also as in bare or uninhabited. According to one definition by G. Basil Barham of the East Herts Archæological Society:

The Cold Harbours are all in the vicinity of one or other of the great Neolithic or Roman roads, and were originally the remains of partially destroyed Roman or Romano-British dwellings, or settlements [sometimes protected by earth walls, timber, or ruined stonework]. Travellers used them as being more or less secure places in which to spend a night. As the places became known, traders gathered there to distribute goods and do business, and eventually the places once more became villages, but retained the old generic name.

Cold Harbour is clearly a very old thoroughfare (or place) – older than the Mill Wall path which went down the west of the Island; older even than Dolphin Lane, (H)Arrow Lane or any of the other medieval lanes which crossed the Island marshes from Poplar in the north. That said, it is difficult to imagine Cold Harbour as being on the route to anywhere. As this 1745 map shows, Cold Harbour was a bit of a dead end – the southern end of Blackwall, a major shipbuilding area of the time.

Survey of London:

Coldharbour is virtually the sole remaining fragment of Old Blackwall. Until relatively recently it was little known and little seen, being obscured by the nondescript industrial premises on the east side of Preston’s Road. These have now been mostly cleared away, exposing what is left of Coldharbour to passers-by in the newly widened Preston’s Road.

The roadway here is the only surviving section of an old riverside road leading southwards from Blackwall Stairs before petering out somewhere near the present entrance to the South Dock of the West India Docks. This old road almost certainly originated as a pathway along the top of the medieval river embankment called the Blackwall. A deed for a house on the east side, leased in 1626, describes the house as having been built on ‘part of the wall commonly called Blackwall’, and the street as ‘the way which lieth on the same wall called Blackwall’. The name Coldharbour …  formerly applied to the whole stretch of roadway, and was only restricted to the southern section after the road had been cut by the construction of the Blackwall entrance to the West India Docks.

Buildings had begun to appear in Coldharbour by the second decade of the seventeenth century, as the wave of development encouraged by the opening of the East India Company’s shipbuilding yard at Blackwall in 1614 gradually spread southwards along the riverfront, and the opening of Browne’s (later Rolt’s) shipyard in the late 1660s probably gave a further boost to the process.

Detail from the 1750 engraving ‘A View of Blackwall looking towards Greenwich’. by Boydell. Cold Harbour is in the centre of this detail.

The construction of the West India Docks disected the riverside road and isolated Cold Harbour from the rest of Blackwall.


William Daniell’s 1802 painting, “An Elevated View of the New Docks & Warehouses now constructing on the Isle of Dogs near Limehouse for the reception & accommodation of Shipping in the West India Trade” provides a very detailed view of Cold Harbour at that time.

I’m jumping around a bit, now, but I find it interesting to compare this with recent aerial photos and maps.

c1950. Photo: Click for large version.



Anyway, back in the 1800s, some larger houses and businesses were built along the riverfront:

1 Cold Harbour, Isle House

Dockmaster’s residence, built for the West India Dock Company in 1825–6, to the designs of their Principal Engineer, (Sir) John Rennie.

3 Cold Harbour, Nelson House

There are stories of Lord Nelson meeting Lady Hamilton in this area – but there is no evidence to suggest a link between him and this house (first purported in 1881). The original Doric columns on either side of the front door were stolen in the 1980s – who steals Doric columns, is there a market for Doric columns? Survey of London:

In 1924–5 the house was converted into two dwellings, for occupation by PLA police families, by the introduction of a glazed screen (burnt in the fire in 1990) across the first-floor landing, and the conversion of the north-west room on the first floor to a bathroom and the south-west room on the top floor to a kitchen. In 1935 the PLA granted a 21-year lease of Nos 1 and 3 to the Bethnal Green and East London Housing Association, which divided the properties for letting to weekly tenants.

5 & 7 Cold Harbour

Survey of London:

Probably the two houses built here in 1809 by Richard Gibbs, a local shipwright, but a rebuilding in the early 1820s cannot be ruled out. The houses erected about 1809 replaced the two shown in Daniell’s view. By 1799 the northern house, whose site had been leased to Ralph Mayne in 1637, was ’empty and ruinous’, and it was pulled down before 1807, when Gibbs bought the freehold of the empty site, together with the standing house to the south.

In 1834 No. 5 was let to the West India Dock Company for an Assistant Dockmaster’s house, and No. 7 was similarly occupied from 1851. The dockmasters left when the leases expired in 1871. Between 1877 and 1890 one, or possibly both, of the properties were partly occupied as a coffee house. According to the directories, the proprietor in 1881 was William Keld, but the census shows that there were two William Kelds, one at each house. At No. 5 was a 32-year-old lighterman with a family of seven, a nurse and female servant, and at No. 7 a 55-year-old boat proprietor, presumably the former’s father.

9 Cold Harbour

Site of the Fishing Smack pub, which had been around since at least 1750. It was demolished in 1948, but a single glazed-tile column remains (see previous photo).

Site of the Fishing Smack


15 Cold Harbour

The current building was constructed in 1843–4 by Benjamin Granger Bluett, a joiner, mast- and blockmaker on the site of an older house. Survey of London:

In 1894 the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB), which occupied the adjoining wharf to the south as an ambulance station, bought the freehold of No. 15, and in 1895 it enclosed the former mastmaking shop, subdividing the area to make dressing-rooms, bathrooms, waiting-rooms and stores. It also built a range of waterclosets and an observation ward against the south wall of the house. Edwin T. Hall (1851–1923) designed and supervised these alterations. Ownership of No. 15 passed to the LCC in 1929, when it took over the MAB’s responsibilities. In 1969 the GLC transferred the property to the borough council.

1939. 15 Cold Harbour on the right. Managers Street on the left.

North Wharf

I described the Metropolitan Asylums Board’s Ambulance Station in another article (click here).

It was around the time that the asylum board took over the wharf (in the 1880s) that Managers Street was constructed, named after the managers of the Metropolitan Asylums Board.

19 Cold Harbour (Blackwall River Police Station)

Opened in 1894 on the former Brown’s Wharf and closed in the 1970s. Survey of London:

The Blackwall Station, one of only two permanent river-police stations ever built on the Thames (the other was at Wapping), was designed to accommodate a division of the Thames police formerly based on board The Royalist, a hulk moored off Folly Wall. The inconvenience of this floating headquarters had long been felt, and in 1875 it was suggested that the station should be relocated on shore in the former Railway Tavern at Brunswick Wharf. This proposal was rejected, and it was not until 1889 that other land sites were seriously considered, the choice of Brown’s Wharf being approved in 1890.

Concordia Wharf (L) and the River Police Station (R)


27 Cold Harbour (Gun Public House)

Doing business since the 1700s, the pub has been variously named the King and Queen (1722), Rose and Crown (1725), and Ramsgate Pink (1750). It was renamed the Gun (and sometimes referred to as the Gun Tavern) in 1771. For more photos, click here.

Nos 29–51 (odd) Cold Harbour

Built in 1890. No. 51 was demolished due to the widening and realignment of Preston’s Road.

That same widening of the road meant also the loss of Leslie’s Café 😦

West India Dock Tavern

The terraced housing in the previous section was built on the site of a grand tavern known as the West India Dock Tavern. Opened in 1830, with the owner, Samuel Lovegrove, expecting to profit from the proximity of the docks, it was not a success and remained open for not much more than a decade. For its full story, read my earlier blog article, The West India Dock Tavern.

1835 map showing “Lovegrove’s W. India Dock Tavern & Stairs”

Little is known or reported about the early history of the other side of the street. It was always predominantly industrial, but this 1870 map reveals that there was some housing in the northern section at the time. New Road was the new road between the West India Dock entrance lock and Preston(‘s) Road in the north (so-called due to it passing through the former Hall-Preston Estate):

By 1910 it was getting fuller:

Cold Harbour survived WWII remarkably unscathed, as this (sorry, poor quality) London County Council Bomb Map reveals, in spite of the V1 (flying bomb or Doodlebug) strike marked by the circle on the left. My theory is that the Luftwaffe – primarily targetting the docks – did not release their bombs until spotting the Thames, which generally saved those premises along the river in the east of the Island as the bombs passed overhead. A study of the wider LCC Bomb Damage Map for the Island does bear this out.

Uniquely, Cold Harbour retains a feel of the past, a piece of the Island (yes, it’s the Island 🙂 ) that shows its age, like these two Herberts in the Gun a couple of years ago.

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Nellie Frances Cressall

Poplar was once blessed with outstanding local government and politicians – politicians who demonstrably improved the lot of the residents of what is now E14, and who were even prepared to go to prison in support of their beliefs (see Poplarism aka The Poplar Rates Rebellion). One of those politicians was Nellie Frances Cressall, after whom Cressall House in Tiller Road is named.

Cressall House in the 1950s

Growing up on the other side of the Island, I only (sometimes nervously) crossed the Glass Bridge to go swimming in Island Baths, so I never ventured far down Tiller Road and was not familiar with Cressall House. It was only recently that I learned that the block of flats was named after someone whose heart was very much in the right place as far as I’m concerned, someone who became Mayor of Poplar and spent her later years living in Macquarie Way on the Chapel House Estate.

A young Nellie

Frequently – and incorrectly – stated as being born in Stepney, Nellie Francis Wilson was actually born in Kilburn on 23rd November 1882 to carpenter George Wilson and his wife Julia (born Jennings). In 1904 she married George Joseph Cressall in St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, and by the end of the year the newly-weds were living at 15 Barnes Street, Limehouse (at the corner with Wakeley Street; a house which, amazingly enough, is still there).

15 Barnes Street

A couple of years later both Nellie and George became politically active and joined the Independent Labour Party. In 1912 she met Sylvia Pankhurst, an encounter that influenced her to join the suffragist cause:

I had been thinking for some time of the unequal rights of men and women. I could not agree that men should be the sole parent, that a mother could not even say whether her child should be vaccinated or not – or that women should receive half pay and many other things as well. I thought that here is something I can dedicate myself to help in some way to put things right.

She joined Sylvia Pankhurst, Keir Hardie, Julia Scurr, Millie Lansbury and George Lansbury, in establishing the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELF) – an organisation that combined socialism with a demand for women’s suffrage. The group also began production of a weekly paper for working-class women called The Women’s Dreadnought.

Nellie in 1915.

It was around this time that Nellie could frequently be heard speaking at meetings at the East India Dock gates next to the entrance to Blackwall Tunnel. In November 1919 Nellie and George we elected to Poplar Council (the Labour Party had won 39 of the 42 council seats), and both were involved in the Poplar Rates Rebellion in 1921.

Cllr. Mrs Cressall Addressing Crowd. “At Rates Protest in Poplar 1921 This photograph shows a Labour member of Poplar Borough Council addressing a crowd of supporters during the Poplar Rates Rebellion.”

On Monday 5th September, Nellie was arrested – along with Susan Lawrence, Julia Scurr, Minnie Lansbury and Jennie Mackay.

Among those who had to make special arrangements were George and Nellie Cressall, both of whom had been committed to prison. The Cressalls had five sons between the ages of seven and seventeen, and Nellie, who was thirty-eight, was expecting her sixth. They arranged that the youngest should be cared for by their grandmother, while two of the boys joined the group of children taken to Kent.

Nellie Cressall … had a particularly gruelling experience. In view of her condition she was immediately put into a cell in the hospital wing. But she was then, apparently, forgotten about for twenty-four hours. When others were let out for exercise, she was ignored and remained locked up. She heard the persistent sound of screaming, and while she was there a woman in a nearby cell committed suicide.

– ‘Poplarism’ by Noreen Branson (Lawrence and Wishart, 1979)

Women councillors leaving for prison. Millie Lansbury (at window), Jeannie MacKay, Susan Lawrence and Nellie Cressall. (Source:

She later said:

Think of it, you mothers, young girls taken from a life of freedom and locked up in cells with doors as thick as a pawnbroker’s safe.

Imprisoning a heavily-pregnant councillor was a serious mistake on the behalf of the government; public support for Nellie grew and her incarceration became an embarrassment. Just over two weeks after her imprisonment, she was released on health grounds. Nellie, however, refused to go unless her fellow councillors were also released – she was also very suspicious of a document that the authorities asked her to sign, in case it in some way caused her colleagues further problems. In the end, it was LCC Labour group leader, Harry Gosling, who convinced her to leave, on 21st September, close to three weeks after she had been locked up. The Poplar Rates Rebellion was successful with the government and the London County Council backing down. The rest of the imprisoned councillors were released on 12 October.

Nellie became the first female Mayor of Poplar in 1943 (husband George was Mayor for a couple of years in the 30s).

At the 1951 – the year she became a widow – Labour National Conference she made a passionate speech about the progress that had been made since the First World War:

Years ago after the First World War many, many people in my constituency sat in the dark because they had not got a penny to put in the gas. Today what do I find? People come to me creating about the heavy electricity bills they have to pay!… I have young people coming worrying me for houses…. We have got some houses where six families lived once upon a time…. Whereas in the old days people would get married, as I did, and be contented in two nice little rooms, today our young people want a home of their own.

Planet News: 1953 UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 03: SCARBOROUGH: Grandmother, Nellie Cressall, of Poplar, the widow of Labour pioneer George Lansbury’s election agent, who roused the audience to prolonged applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual Labour Party Conference here. Mrs Cressall, who is 69, has 26 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She attacked the Conservatives and the Housewives League on the cost-of-living cries. Aneurin Bevan – a master of fiery platform speaking – said her speech was the finest heard at the conference. Mrs Cressall ‘discovered’ the Prime Minister, when in 1907 he knocked at her door and asked to see her husband as he wanted to help the Labour movement.

A decade later and Nellie was living with sons Edgar and George at 15 Macquarie Way on the Island.

15 Macquarie Way

Nellie appeared briefly in the slightly-controversial 1962 documentary, “Postscript to Empire” (slightly-controversial among Islanders who, correctly in my view, found it patronising) providing a feisty counterpart to the conservative (small ‘c’) Mr. Hart, grocer of 114 Manchester Rd.

“I’ll let you finish, but I’m not happy”.

“What a lot of bowlocks”.

Nellie died in 1973.

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Island Pubs and Beer Houses

Update, September 2017: A lot more photos and updated information (including the odd newspaper article) have emerged since this article was originally posted in 2014. The article has been updated to include these. I’ve also tried to arrange the photos in chronological order, and give credit to their sources.

This is a photographic record (plus the odd drawing or painting) of all the original pubs on the Island. By original, I mean that they were around before 1980, before the LDDC and Canary Wharf. By 1980, many had already disappeared, and I am sorry to say that most of the rest have disappeared since then.

The title of the article refers to pubs and beer houses, and I should explain what a beer house is. In Victorian times, it was permitted to sell beer without getting a license. Unfortunately, a side effect of this was that beer houses were never inspected, and became renowned as dens of vice and crime. The law was quickly changed to make sure that all premises were licensed, but most Island pubs were beer houses at one time. The exceptions were the grander establishments such as the Queen, Cubitt Arms or Lord Nelson. From the start, these were large, licensed premises aimed at the well-to-do (who were not actually to be found in any appreciable numbers on the Island); they were all to be found around Cubitt Town.

The photos come from numerous sources – too numerous for me to know – but I must express my thanks for the very many photos taken by Tony Alltoft, Peter Wright and Steve White, as well as those from the Island History Trust collection. The map extracts accompanying each pub entry are mostly from the 1890s Ordnance Survey series.

I thought this would be an easy and lazy post: mostly photos, not that much text, more of a photo blog really. It turned out to take a lot more time and effort than I expected, but then I do think the results have made it worth it. Potentially, this post has turned into the definitive inventory of the pubs on the Island.

Pubs Featured in this Article

Showing year of opening and closure (occasionally estimated)

Anchor & Hope (1829-2005), Courage
Blacksmiths Arms (1895-2001), Watney/Trumans
Builders Arms (1864-1940), Whitbread
City Arms (1811-2012), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Cubitt Arms (1864-2011), Truman
Dock House (1850-1937)
Dorset Arms (1860-1997), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Ferry House (1700-present), Courage
Fishing Smack (1700s-1948)
Folly House Tavern (1753-1875)
George (1865-present), Watney
Glendower, 296-298 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
Glengall Arms (1830-1932)
Great Eastern I (1860-1940), Charrington
Gun (1722-present), Taylor Walker
Gut House (1600s-1810)
Highland Mary, 252-254 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
Ironmongers Arms (1860-1920)
Islanders (1880-1940)
King’s Arms, on river wall at present-day New Atlas Wharf (dates unknown)
Kingsbridge Arms (1839-2004), Whitbread
London Tavern (1860-1960), Charrington
Lord Nelson (1855-present), Charrington
Magnet & Dewdrop (1850-1995), Watney Combe Reid
Manchester Arms (1858-1941), Taylor Walker
Mechanics Arms (1818-1920)
Millwall Docks Tavern (1869-1940), Taylor Walker
Millwall Tap (aka Vulcan Arms), 112 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
North Pole (1860-2014), Watney/Truman
Pier Tavern (1863-2013), Whitbread
Pride of the Isle (1846-1960), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Prince Alfred (1870-1940), Truman
Prince of Wales (1859-1940), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Princess of Wales (1862-1970), Charrington
Queen (1855-2004), Whitbread
Robert Burns (1853-1991), Truman
Ship (1835-present), Watney
Tooke Arms (1853-present), Watney
Torrington Arms (1856-1910), Ind Coope
Union Arms (1830-1960)
Vulcan (1882-1992), Taylor Walker
Watermans Arms I (1813-1920)
Watermans Arms II (1853-present), Taylor Walker
Waterman’s Lodge, Totnes Cottages (dates unknown, no images)
Windmill (1700-1884)
West India Dock Tavern, Cold Harbour (1830-1840)


Pub Map

Map of Island Pubs 15524613822

Click for large version

1905 map of licensed premises

Anchor & Hope

41 West Ferry Rd. Opened as a beer house in 1829, and closed in 2005. The building was recently renovated and turned into flats (which involved the sad death of one of the construction workers), but the exterior still retains some semblance of its former self.



c1962. Photo: Island History Trust Collection

1966. Photo: Island History Trust / Rev BK Andrews

c1970. Photo: Con Maloney



1989 (Either the Marathon or mass legging it after a milk float)

c1990. Photo: Steve White

1995. Photo: Peter Wright

1997: Photo: Peter Wright

1997. Photo: Peter Wright



2008. Photo: Peter Wright

2008. Photo: Peter Wright

2008. Photo: Peter Wright



2014. Photo: Peter Wright

2014. Photo: Peter Wright


Blacksmith’s Arms

25 West Ferry Rd. Opened as a beer house around 1895, and converted to a restaurant in 2001 (named ‘Rogue Trader’, but later renamed ‘Aniseed’).


1900 Pub Tokens


1960s. Julie Hawkins

1960s. Julie Hawkins

c1960. Photo: Island History Trust



1980s. Blacksmith’s Arms Football Team

c1990. Photo: Steve White

1997. Photo: Peter Wright

1990s. Photo: Peter Wright

1990s. Photo courtesy of the Bennett family. The leftmost man holding a half-full pint glass is Charles Mick Bennett.

1997. Photo: Peter Wright

2010. Photo: Mick Lemmerman

2014. Photo: Hazel Simpson

2014. Photo: Hazel Simpson

Builder’s Arms

99 Stebondale St. Opened in 1864, and described as destroyed in WWII (although the wartime photo in this album does show that at least the shell of the building survived the 1940 blitz raids that flattened the rest of Stebondale St).


The pub was built by Jonathan Billson, who also built 26 other houses on Stebondale St. The location was the corner of Stebondale St and a short extension of Billson St which was originally planned to extend further into what became Millwall Park, to meet an extended Douglas Street (later Douglas Place). The collapse of the 1870s house building market on the Island put paid to these plans. The Whitbread brewery extensively rebuilt and enlarged the premises in 1891. The LCC purchased the site of the Builder’s Arms in 1965 so it could be incorporated into Millwall Park.

1868. Morning Post


c1920. Builder’s Arms outing. Photo: Island History Trust / Mrs, Petts

1924. Ledger

1920s? Photo: Island History Trust

1936. Photo: Island History Trust


Late 1940s. Photo: George Warren


1940s. Photo: Mark Shaw

City Arms (aka City Pride)

1 West Ferry Rd. The original City Arms opened in approximately 1811 by the owner of the former Gut House. The current building opened in 1936, closed at the start of 2012, and was demolished in October of the same year. At the time of writing (March 2013), there are plans to build a high-rise residential building on the site.

The City Arms was renamed to City Pride in the 1980’s.


Photo: Island History Trust



1967. The Phil Starr (Arthur Fuller) & Terri Dennis (Barry Chat) drag act

Photo: Bill Regan



c1986. Screenshot from ‘Prospects’ TV series

c1986. Screenshot from ‘Prospects’ TV series

c1988. Photo: Ken Lynn

c1989. Photo: Ken Lynn


2010. Photo: Mick Lemmerman

Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Peter Wright


Photo: Con Maloney

Photo: Con Maloney

Cubitt Arms

262 Manchester Rd. Opened in 1864 and closed in 2011. The pub was built by Henry Smallman, also responsible for building The Queen. The building exterior is far plainer than originally, with the more ornate features removed in the 1960’s.


Photo: Island History Trust


Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo: Bill Regan


Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

Dock House

26 Cuba St (corner of Alpha Rd). Opened as a beer house c1850, and demolished in 1937 when this road junction was annexed by Millwall Docks.


Dock House, corner of Alpha Rd and Cuba St 15062738021

Dorset Arms

377-379 Manchester Rd. Four houses were built by James & Richard Bowley between 1860 and 1864 in a row known as “Dorset Terrace”. In 1860, James Bowley obtained a license to sell ale and beer at no. 377. Twenty years later the beer house was extended to include no. 379. By this time it was already known as the Dorset Arms.


In 1913, the two houses were demolished, replaced by the public house that was present until its closure in 1997 and subsequent demolition.

Photo: Island History Trust

Pre-1914 Dorset Arms Beano 14879173368

Dorset Arms Beano [Pre-1914]. Photo: Island History Trust / Mrs. P. Machell

dorset-5 14879202657

Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo courtesy of Donald Francis Read Utton

Dorset Arms 17425207030

Photo: Bill Regan


1980s-dorset-arms 14879107830


Photo: Pat Jarvis

Photo: Bill Regan

Dorset Arms 17136776132

Photo: Connie Batten

pub-sign-dorset-arms 14879107950

Ferry House

26 Ferry St. In 1700, the ferry to Greenwich departed from an area which was not much more than farmland. There was a starch factory near the ferry landing, and when this closed around 1740, the premises were rebuiilt/renamed to become the Ferry House – probably serving refreshments to ferry passengers. The present Ferry House was built in 1822, making it certainly the oldest (still existing) pub on the Island, and one of the oldest buildings.



1927. Photo: Island History Trust

1965. Daily Mirror

Photo: Anne O’Flaherty


1970s. Photo: Gary O’Keefe

1980s. Photo: Tarbard Family

Photo: Bill Regan

Photo: Tarbard Family


c1986. ‘Prospects TV Series’.

c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

c1990. Photo: Steve White

c2010. Photo: Tommo Shadwell

Reg Tarbard. Photo: Emma Tarbard

Fishing Smack

9 Coldharbour. A pub was present at this location in the 1750s, then known as the Fishermans Arms. It was rebuilt in 1893, and then demolished in 1948.


fish-1- 14879182847

fishing-smack 14879030609

Fishing Smack 16041619625

Cold Harbour 16889389229

Folly House Tavern

In August 1753 Thomas Davers, esquire, of the Middle Temple, acquired the copyhold of 1½ acres of the Osier Hope, a parcel of riverside land south of Blackwall, where he built, ‘at vast expense, a little fort . . . known by the name of Daver’s folly’. In financial difficulty, Davers surrendered his property in August 1754.

The first occupant to sell liquor was Henry Annis, who became copyholder in 1755 and obtained a licence in 1758. The name Folly House first occurs in 1763. Nothing is known of the original structure, which was apparently altered by Annis by 1757. Additional buildings for the accommodation of ‘Friends and Customers’ were erected in the mid-1760s by William Mole, who also made use of the surrounding foreland as a garden.  Perhaps because of its convenient riverside location between Greenwich and Blackwall, the Folly House was a popular venue for whitebait suppers throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

When the property was auctioned by Mole’s widow around 1788 it contained a variety of rooms ‘for the accommodation of genteel company’, an extensive pleasure- and kitchen-garden, a paved causeway, and a landing-place leading to a terrace of 186ft in front of the river.

In 1800 possession of the Folly House and surrounding land passed to Benjamin Granger, the Blackwall coal merchant, who appears to have added to the existing group of buildings almost immediately. A plan of 1817 shows the public house, its outbuildings and gardens (which at the time included a cockpit), with smaller buildings flanking to the north and south. Pictorial representations of the Folly House of this period are somewhat inconsistent and the tavern may have been considerably altered or even rebuilt on a number of occasions. However, the evidence indicates that it was a two-storey main building of three bays facing the river, with a shallow gable roof surmounted by a balustraded balcony. The building was extended to the south, further away from the riverside, where the terrace featured a row of triangular shelters or bowers for patrons.

Further alterations and additions to the property in the 1830s and 1850s included the building of a new causeway, 60ft long. The tavern enjoyed a resurgence in business with the growth of shipbuilding yards on the riverfront in the 1850s and 1860s, until it was closed in 1875. The building was later incorporated into the premises of Yarrow’s.

– British History Online


Folly House, Blackwall folly-house-tavern 15065370762

scan0051-copy-2- 14879174007

The George

114 Glengall Grove. Opened in 1865, rebuilt in 1932, and still doing business. The original building was erected in 1864–5 by George Read, who was also responsible for 57 houses in Glengall Grove. Its prominent position close to the docks and Millwall Docks station was exploited by its landlords: rooms were available for businessmen’s meetings and dining rooms and a large billiards room for their relaxation.



In 1889–90 William Clark, the licensee, was instrumental in relocating Millwall Rovers football club, which then became Millwall Athletic, at a new ground nearby (approximately where ASDA is now located), and the George became the club’s headquarters. In 1895 Clark’s successor, Lewis Innocent, mortgaged the premises to Watney Combe Reid, which acquired the freehold in 1927. In 1932 the building was demolished and replaced by the present structure.

Photo: Island History Trust

1927. Photo: Island History Trust

1930s. Photo: Island History Trust

Late 1920s. Photo: Island History Trust Collection / A. Grover

1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

1930s rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes


Island History Trust: “The George Pub. Corner of Glengall Road and East Ferry Road, being transformed from a hotel into a pub. Taken on May 20th 1932. The builder was H. C. Horsvil of Forest Gate. Evidently according to the notice, temporary bars are in operation during the building works. Donated by Mrs P. Holmes”

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

1939. Photo: Island History Trust

Late 1940s. Waiting for the call-on.

c1949. Photo:

1960s. Photo: George Warren

Jayne Mansfield pays a visit.


c1970. Photo: Charlie Surface


c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

Photo: Jan Hill

1988. Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Pat Jarvis

1987. Photo: Island History Trust

2014. Photo: Mick Lemmerman


296-298 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown). Mentioned in trade directories around the time of the construction of the Great Eastern – one of many pubs or beer houses profiting from the ship’s construction.

Glengall Arms

367 West Ferry Rd. Opened in the late 1830s, built by Henry Bradshaw, a local grazier. Over the next few years Bradshaw added some very small cottages at the back of the public house, built terraced houses along the main road and the new Cahir Street, and more cottages along Marsh Street.


The Glengall Arms was bought in 1925 by the London Diocesan Fund for use as a priest’s lodging and clubhouse in connection with St Cuthbert’s Church. It was acquired by the LCC in 1932 and demolished, together with nearby houses, for public housing developments (Arethusa House and other flats on Cahir St).

Glengall Arms 1929 15738945855

Great Eastern

395 West Ferry Rd from c1860 to c1940.


Great Eastern, 1929 15553767167

Photo: Island History Trust

Seven Year’s Hard, by Richard William, 1904

The Gun

27 Cold Harbour. First named the King & Queen (in 1722), the pub was also known as the Ramsgate Pink, and then Rose & Crown, before getting its current name in 1771. The building we see today is 19th century.



the-gun-1967 14879023027




1970s (probably)

c1980. Photo: Bill Regan

1970s. Photo: Gary O’Keefe

1980. Photo: Bill Regan


My beautiful picture

c1990. Photo: Steve White

The Gun, Isle of Dogs

gun 14878870449

Gut House

West Ferry Rd (approx. at site of City Arms). In 1660, the Thames breached the river embankment (thanks to gravel quarrying in the vicinity), and after repair there remained a large inland pond known as the Poplar Gut. The Gut House was built on the site of the breach, and did business until approximately 1810 when the owner had to make way for the new City Canal. He acquired land close by and built the first City Arms there.

camerazoom-20131023152650497 14878864659

Highland Mary

252-254 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown). Mentioned in trade directories around the time of the construction of the Great Eastern – one of many pubs or beer houses profiting from the ship’s construction.

Ironmonger’s Arms

210 West Ferry Rd. The Barnfield Estate, not much more than a marsh on the Isle of Dogs, was purchased by the Ironmongers’ Company in 1730. In the 1850s the owners commenced with house building on the estate, including three public houses within a very short distance of each other on the West Ferry Rd: Magnet & Dewdrop, Ironmongers’ Arms and The Vulcan. (Actually, technically, only the Ironmongers Arms was a public house, the other two were beer houses.) The Ironmonger’s Arms survived until at least 1921.


scan0034 14878980489

Photo: Island History Trust

1920s. Photo: Island History Trust

Ironmonger's Arms 15062657981

Names; (charabanc) G Launtain, T Clayden, Mr Garrett, D French, S Byron; seated: C Bishop, J Garrett, Seymour, Mr French, R Sweeney. In front standing; Cannon, B Phillips, H Anderson, Don _, Verry, Sweeney, V Willis, Brinkley, A Saggers,. Seated; Bob Watson, Jim Diffey, Palmer, Stuart, Herbert, Hankins, Fred. Photo: Island History Trust

Ironmonger’s Arms (L) & Magnet & Dewdrop (R), c1937. Photo: Maloney Family


3-5 Tooke St, opened c1880. The Islanders was more usually named by locals as Sexton’s, after the landlord Maurice John Sexton. It retained the nickname long after he had gone. The pub was best known as the first headquarters of Millwall Football Club in its early days around 1885. The Islanders was destroyed in an air-raid during the blitz, in the early hours of 7 September 1940.


The Islander Public House in Tooke Street Tooke Street looking towards Alpha Grove on the Bank Holiday of 6 May 1935, this was a street party heldto celebrate King George V’s Jubilee. The Islander Public House, built around 1858, became the first HQ of Millwall Football Club.The owners of the JT Morton jam and marmalade factory in West Ferry Road formed them as Millwall Rovers in 1885. The owners of the factory had recruited extensively for workers in Scotland. Hence most of the team’s early members came from north of the border and thus the club immediately adopted the Scottish flag’s rampant lion as its motif. At a meeting held in the Islanders pub it was decided to call the new team Millwall Rovers. The Islander was used as their changing roomsin their first season. At this time it was more generally known as “Sextons” after the landlord Maurice John Sexton, this nickname continued well after he had gone. On Sept 7th 1940, during the world war two blitz, the pub and many of the surrounding houses in Tooke Street were destroyed by a high explosive bomb. Tooke Street was cleared of housing in the 1960’s and the street no longer exists. The picture was given to us by Arthur Ayres, along with two other pictures of the party taken from his home in Tooke Street opposite the Islander pub. These are the only known pictures in existence of this much-loved old pub and we thank Arthur for bringing them to light after so many years.

– Peter Wright

Tooke St(58g2) 14879120147

1936 (probably). Photo courtesy of Arthur Ayres

1936 (probably). Photo courtesy of Arthur Ayres

Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust

King’s Arms

Only recorded on maps, with the accompanying King’s Arms Stairs, nothing is known about this pub (to me at least). First mentioned in this 1835 newspaper clipping, and accessible only via the Mill Wall, then still a public path on top the embankment that ‘circled’ the Island.


By the 1860s it seemed even more inaccessible.

And by 1875 there was no sign of the pub, but – intriguingly – there is note of a brewery. I’ve seen a photo of a beerhouse on Westferry Road apparently belonging to this brewery, but know precious little about it. A few years later there was no longer mention of pub or brewery.

Kingsbridge Arms

154 & 156 West Ferry Rd. First mentioned in 1839, it was demolished in 2004.


Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust

c1950. Photo:


2000. Photo: Peter Wright

2000. Photo: Peter Wright

2000. Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Duggan Family

Landlord & Landlady Bill & Kit Duggan, daughter Kathy and union leader Jack Dash. Photo: Kathy Duggan


Billy Duggan, landlord’s grandson on the day the pub was closed down. Photo: Duggan Family

London Tavern

393 Manchester Rd, built on the corner of Glengall Rd and Manchester Rd in 1860 by Charles Davis, who was responsible also for building the Pier Tavern.


For a brief period during the 1880s and 1890s the London Tavern was a ‘cooperative public house’ managed by a society. Local police inspector Carter described to to Charles Booth in an 1897 ‘perambulation’ around the Island as: “neat and well-kept appearance from the outside… by a cooperative society, ‘the only known of in London’ said Carter, ‘and respectably kept’.”

The pub survived WWII and was closed in 1954. After that it survived into the 60s as a one-storey shell.

1927. Photo: Bill Curran


Glengall Rd School, 1920s, London Tavern in background. Photo: Island History Trust


1927 Glengall Rd School, London Tavern in background. Photo: Island History Trust.

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Lord Nelson

1 Manchester Rd. The Lord Nelson was built in 1855 and is one the few remaining original Island pubs that is still doing business. Originally there was a statue of Lord Nelson on the roof corner, but this and other ornate features have been removed.


In 1884 the Lord Nelson also served as the business premises of the “Millwall & Cubitt Town Omnibus Co.”

In 1886, Millwall Rovers left their Millwall headquarters at The Islanders pub in Tooke St, and moved to the Nelson. For the next 4 years the team played at a ground behind the pub (where Manchester Grove is now located).

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nelson_1400503988 15062794401 nelson-12 15065825085

Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs. E. Long

Freehold Records

Mrs. Stanley, Lord Nelson, 1960s, Photo: Island History Trust Collection / E. Long

Mr and Mrs Bonney, Lord Nelson, c1960, Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs. E. Long

Lord Nelson 15040703378

Photo courtesy of George Warren

Photo: Pat Jarvis


Photo courtesy of Kathy Pike

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nelson 15065825225

img021 14879116509

c1990. Photo: Steve White

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Camera 360

Magnet & Dewdrop

194 West Ferry Rd. This pub was re-named the Telegraph in 1985. It closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2001.


1924. Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust


1924. Photo: Island History Trust

1995. Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Mick Lemmerman

Manchester Arms

308 Manchester Road (corner of Samuda St). This pub was built in 1858 and was badly damaged in an air raid in around 1941 – and subsequently demolished.


Pre-WW1. Manchester Arms


Photo: Island History Trust


Manchester Arms 1920s 15002422659

The bar of the Manchester Arms in the 1920’s. The two people behind the bar are Jack Ayres and Bellie Hart. Photo: Island History Trust

1931. Photo: Island History Trust

Manchester Arms from opposite house, c1950 15186170391


Mechanic’s Arms

18 West Ferry Rd. Built on the corner of Regent’s Wharf as a beer house in 1818. It was still standing in the 1920s. Approximate location:


Millwall Docks Tavern & Hotel

West Ferry Rd, by the Millwall Dock entrance just north of Kingsbridge. This pub opened in 1869 and was destroyed in the blitz.


Photo: Island History Trust

1933, Millwall Docks Tavern 15065633675



Site of pub

The North Pole

74 Manilla St. The North Pole occupies four house plots fronting Dolphin Lane, which were originally sold by Robert Batson in 1808–9 but remained unbuilt upon until the 1860s, until a beer house was built. The present shop-front dates from 1913. The pub closed in 2014, but the building remains in place.


north-pole-2- 14878978748

Photo: Island History Trust

North Pole 14878979828

Photo: Island History Trust

North Pole 17044446246

Photo: Island History Trust

1960s. George O’Neal and George Smith. Photo: Island History Trust / Joe Wright

1960s. Photo: Island History Collection / Joe Wright (left)

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c1990. Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

1997-2 14879009047

1997. Photo: Peter Wright

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Pier Tavern

283 Manchester Rd. This pub was built in 1863 and converted to a restaurant in March 2013. The restaurant has since closed.


Photo: Bill Regan

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Pier Tavern 16495386498

Photo: Christine Egglesfield

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Pride of the Isle

20 Havannah St (corner of Cheval St). This pub was built in 1846, and appeared in the 1960s film ‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’, although it was renamed The Red Lion in the film. It was demolished in the 1960s to make room for the Barkantine Estate.


Susan Bessie Olley, upstairs in the Pride of the Isle, 1904. Before her marriage to Percy Robert Brewis in St Lukes on 14th September. Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs. Stevens.

1910s. Olley family with pony and trap outside the pub. Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs Stevens.

Pride of the Isle 15545203000


Screenshot from “Postscript to Empire”, 1962


‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’

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‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’

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‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’

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‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’

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‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’

havannah-cheval-2 14878970568

Photo: Island History Trust

Prince Alfred

22 Tobago St. The Prince Alfred beer house (aka The Ash Bucket) was rebuilt as a pub in 1906 for Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Company.


1930. Photo: Island History Trust / Mr Lapwood

prince-alfred 15065258272

Photo: Peter Wright

555207_564064343623210_1160158_n-1- 15062586821

Prince of Wales

2 Folly Wall. Built by 1859, was in poor order by the 1910s, and destroyed by WWII bombing.


scan0048 14879054607

Prince of Wales 14879054687

Photo: Island History Trust

Prince of Wales v Argyle

Prince of Wales(ifda) 14878963020

Photo: Island History Trust

Prince of Wales(jiua) 15042601956

Photo: Island History Trust

Princess of Wales

84 Manchester Rd. Known locally as “Mac’s”, this substantial pub was built in 1862. It was closed at the end of the 1960’s in connection with the demolishing of a long stretch of Manchester Rd to make room for George Green’s school.


549577_10202043111701584_581803881_n-1- 14879046357

Princess of Wales 16643086146

Photo: John Ross

Princess of Wales 16727227170

Photo: Island History Trust / Doris McCartney

Photo: Island History Trust

1960. Mrs Woodward Fisher, OBE, helping the new tenant, Mrs Pat Pearce, to celebrate her arrival. Photo: Island History Trust / Bill Smith

Screenshot from “Postscript to Empire”, 1962

Screenshot from “Postscript to Empire”, 1962

Screenshot from “Postscript to Empire”, 1962


macs-2 15065241912

Photo: Island History Trust

Princess of Wales 14878892909

Photo: Island History Trust

Princess of Wales(aeyq) 14879046207

Photo: Island History Trust

Princess of Wales(8jqh) 15065600865

Photo: Island History Trust



571 Manchester Rd. This pub was built in 1855 and was was called the Queen. In its latter days it was owned by Allied Breweries and in the 1980s it was called Queens for a while, and finally Queen of the Isle from 1995. It was demolished in 2004.


bbb 14878945220

Photo: Island History Trust

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Photo: Island History Trust

The Queen(eahd) 15065591215

Photo: Island History Trust

queens-3- 15065232862

The Queen 14879009078

Photo: Island History Trust

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‘Prospects’ TV Series

ScreenShot022 15042584336

‘Prospects’ TV Series

The Queen 17586464216

Photo: Bill Regan

the-1985marathon-queen 14878944960


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Queens 14878945110

Robert Burns

248 & 250 West Ferry Rd. This pub was present by 1853, and closed in 1991. The building now houses a mosque, a community centre and a take-away food outlet.


robert burns 14878938250

IMG_20140411_134424 15065584955

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robert-burns-2- 15062554271


My beautiful picture

Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

Photo: Bill Regan



290 West Ferry Rd. In the 1830s, houses along West Ferry Rd, close to Maconochie’s Wharf, were built. Two were later rebuilt as The Ship public house, which is still doing business.


The Ship(4j9d) 14878990167

1929. Photo:

ship 15065185932


264785_4296078249764_1192748026_n 14886013220

1980s. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

My beautiful picture

Photo: Steve White

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West Ferry Rd ship 15065544115

Tooke Arms

165 West Ferry Rd. This pub was present by 1853, at the corner of West Ferry Rd and Janet St. It was rebuilt at a location approximately 40 yards further along West Ferry Rd in 1970.


1900. Photo: Island History Trust

Tooke Arms 15065167902

Photo: Island History Trust

Tooke Arms Beano, 1927 21225559171

1927. Photo: Mrs L. Salmon

1932. Photo: Island History Trust, Mrs. P. Holmes

Outside the Tooke Arms

1947 tooke pitts 14878819989


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1953. Photo: Island History Trust

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165 West Ferry Rd, Tooke Arms 14878942508

Photo: Island History Trust


barkant 15061824751

Photo: Nick Trevillion

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Photo: Con Maloney

Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Angela Harrison

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Tooke Arms Football Team, 1980s. Photo: Bill Grindley

QC/Retouched by CWL


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Torrington Arms

34 West Ferry Rd. Present since 1856, the Torrington Arms was built by the Spratley family from Stepney (who later moved to the Folly House) along with a number of small houses. These houses were pulled down in the 1890s or 1900s. The Torrington Arms, albeit de-licensed, but after 1909 was described as fit only for demolition.


torrington-arms 14878872690

Union Arms (aka Pin & Cotter)

Built in the 1830s and still doing business in 1960. Postal address was 102 West Ferry Rd, but it was some yards up a narrow road which was an extension of (and named) Mellish St, sometimes named Union Rd.


Union Road, dividing the Tooke and Mellish estates, was a narrow way with a lay-by to enable two carts to pass each other; it was little more than an access to the iron works on either side. The Union was the last of a row of small houses built by Henry Bradshaw probably in the mid-1830s.

The Union and the house next door were knocked into one in about 1866, at the height of Millwall’s prosperity. Subsequently the premises fell into disrepair, and in 1914 were rebuilt for Truman Hanbury & Company by W. Pringle of Bow to the designs of Bruce J. Capell. Cheaply fitted out, the new Union was a typical beerhouse of its date, the upper front cement-rendered and painted, the ground-floor front faced with glazed green tiling. There were two public bars, divided by a screen. III-placed to attract any ‘jug trade’, the Union nevertheless survived until the Second World War. It was still standing, albeit in a ruinous condition, in 1960.

– British History Online

Pin & Cotter Outing 15065508135