Island Pubs and Beer Houses

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, 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 Mike Seaborne, 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.

For additional pictures of the pubs, including interior shots, see:

Pubs Featured in this Post

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, no images)
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

Anchor & Hope

41 West Ferry Rd. Opened as a beer house in 1829, and closed in 2005. The building is still present, although in poor condition.


1989-2 14878123879 617277_533291820033796_1970465980_o 15065457952


Anchor & Hope 15232776586 Anchor & Hope 15615830192 Anchor & Hope 15679507185 Anchor & Hope 15878710165 Anchor & Hope 27013750886 Anchor & Hope, Nov 2-14 15696387636 anchor 14879259537 anchor-and-hope-2- 15062785751 anchor-and-hope-3- 15042805886 anchor-and-hope-4- 14879107289 anchor-and-hope-5- 14879232808 anchor-hope-sept-2008 14879259067 Anchr & Hope 28480865774 Byng St looking towards Westferry Rd 16709199807 img203 15042806196

My beautiful picture

West Ferry Rd, Anchor & Hope 15765669325

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’).


blacksmith-arms 15065447682

My beautiful picture

west ferry rd blacksmiths 5 15065806595 Westferry Rd, Cuba St. 27222538145


bla 15062775961

hazel simpson 1 15042795846

Builder’s Arms

99 Stebondale St. Opened in 1864, and destroyed in WWII (although the wartime photo in this album does show that it appears to have survived the 1940 blitz raids that destroyed 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.

Builder's Arms 14879240177 Builder's Arms(3km1) 15065797045 builders-2- 15062765621 Stebondale St, Builder's Arms on left 20183599161

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.


194773_322316157780998_1013101578_o-1- 15062754911 city 14879201778 city 14879229367 City Arms 16990267354 city-2- 15042775336 city-3- 14879076819 cityar9 14879076639 city-arms 14879201128 scan0138 14879200868

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.


cubitt 15042763506 Cubitt Arms 15946641144 cubitt-1 14879064519 cubitt-2- 14879064599 cubitt-4- 14879064459

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.

1980s-dorset-arms 14879107830 Dorset Arms 14879107770 Dorset Arms 17136776132 Dorset Arms 17425207030 dorset-5 14879202657 Pre-1914 Dorset Arms Beano 14879173368 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.


35_183_01a_med_hr 14879162758 Ferry House 14879039849 Ferry House(06uo) 15065389252 Ferry House(k38v) 15042738976 ferry_1372181773 15065387772 Potter's (Ferry) Draw Dock and Ferry House 15199971406

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.


Cold Harbour 16889389229 fish-1- 14879182847 Fishing Smack 16041619625 fishing-smack 14879030609

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.

120_156_10_med_hr 14879131468 170216_184673534878595_1561700_o 15065357762 183758_4296073489645_1816729900_n 15072653255 2468541653_c3fd07a2d9_z 15042706386 DSC_1583 15062687631 george 15062686641 george-70s 14879008669 Outside The George 15125115177 pub-george 14879067100

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 14879054360 Great Eastern, 1929 15553767167

The Gun

27 Coldharbour. 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.


35_183_35a_med_hr 15065576965 120_088_09_med_hr 15042569476 gun 14878870449

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

pub-sign-the-gun 14878994638 The Gun, Isle of Dogs the-gun-1967 14879023027

Gut House

West Ferry Rd (approx. at site of City Arms). In 1660, the Thames breached the river embankment (thanks largely to gravel quarrying in the vicinty), 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

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.


Ironmonger's Arms 15062657981 scan0034 14878980489


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.


Tooke St(58g2) 14879120147

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

Kingsbridge Arms

154 & 156 West Ferry Rd. Trading as the Kings Arms in 1839, it had become the Kingsbridge Arms by 1869. It was also at other times known as the Kings Head and the Eastern Hotel. It was demolished in 2004.


35_182_17_med_hr 15062634711 2000-kingsb 15065665455 kingsbridge 14879109247 kingsbridge arms - duggan - jack dash 15065664235 kingsbridge arms - duggan 04 15065305392 kingsbridge arms - duggan 09 15065663935 Kingsbridge Arms 15042656336 Kingsbridge Arms(fuvl) 15065663705

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.

545407_4262121752815_1895684041_n 14879058278

1927 Glengall Rd School, London Tavern in background 28857802496 Glengall Rd School, 1920s, London Tavern in background. 28167616944 london-tavern-1931 15071624792

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).

1094089_679585262071117_1071461005_o 15042815086

Camera 360

img021 14879116509 Lord Nelson 15040703378 nelson 15065825225 nelson_1359490685 14879116459 nelson_1400503988 15062794401 nelson-3- 14879267817 nelson-12 15065825085 nelson-interior-2 14879241108

Magnet & Dewdrop

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


35_182_21_med_hr 14879182530 Magnet & Dewdrop 15424106447 magnet 15065832495 magnet_1360158001 14879182370 magnet-1 14879123529 Camera 360

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.


Manchester Arms 1920s 15002422659 Manchester Arms 15189194465 Manchester Arms from opposite house, c1950 15186170391 Manchester Arms, 1920s 15002422949

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.


1933, Millwall Docks Tavern 15065633675

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 (August 2016).


35_180_33_med_hr 14878979608 1997-2 14879009047 57071_pr-fkxv1v85ve-udaw7kwyvzj_sesofa01dze5vctr8 15062532481 615266_533284530034525_402881856_o 14878916750 935387_621859441177033_1005086340_n 15065563045 1093788_688139537882356_1151441981_o 15062532731 1244497_688138094549167_1378415957_o 14878855579 1267113_10200650024354565_1211428288_o 14878979218 10350330_10202503181842344_5561487306833394587_n 14878978978 10496130_869201016442873_8282160459127712310_o 14878854969 North Pole 2014(ulzc) 14878855239 North Pole 14878979828 North Pole 17044446246 north-pole 15065562475 north-pole_1359490731 14878854839 north-pole-2- 14878978748

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

Pier Tavern

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


378229_4296083769902_1108579696_n 14885949529 pier 14879040598 Pier Tavern 15852904896 Pier Tavern 16495386498 Pier Tavern 17612818941 pier-2 15042615736 pub-sign-pier-tavern 14878915849

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.


32312_4744380737046_583671934_n 14878847059 546843_4744381097055_1275994503_n 15065195432 1120008_679585508737759_555216943_o 14878970628 havannah-cheval-2 14878970568 Pride of the Isle 15545203000 vlcsnap-2013-04-29-14h42m14s52 15042545476 vlcsnap-2013-04-29-14h44m52s103 15065553245

Prince Alfred

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


555207_564064343623210_1160158_n-1- 15062586821 prince-alfred 15065258272

Prince of Wales

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


Prince of Wales 14879054687 Prince of Wales 17906293250 Prince of Wales(ifda) 14878963020 Prince of Wales(jiua) 15042601956 scan0048 14879054607

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 macs-2 15065241912 Princess of Wales 14878892909 Princess of Wales 16643086146 Princess of Wales 16727227170 Princess of Wales(8jqh) 15065600865 Princess of Wales(aeyq) 14879046207


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.


35_183_24a_med_hr 15063255072 891723_10200607590181795_483229895_o 14878945240 10515340_10203916622625538_3896848801184463394_o 14958310107 bbb 14878945220 capture7 14879008738 Queens 14878945110 queens-2- 14879036767 queens-3- 15065232862 ScreenShot022 15042584336 The Queen 14879009078 The Queen 17586464216 The Queen(eahd) 15065591215 the-1985marathon-queen 14878944960

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.


308356_499090880120557_1597946731_n 14879029957

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

IMG_20140411_134424 15065584955 robert burns 14878938250 robert-burns 14879001548 robert-burns_1372181981 14879001658 robert-burns-2- 15062554271


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.


264785_4296078249764_1192748026_n 14886013220 487635_517928901570088_1432050499_n 15042536296 pub-sign-the-ship 15062513691 ship 15065185932 ship2 15065544255 ship-self-build_med 15042536196

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

The Ship(4j9d) 14878990167 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.


35_181_28_med_hr 14878156780 165 West Ferry Rd, Tooke Arms 14878942508 1947 tooke pitts 14878819989 324204_323129591032988_100000078503487_1334926_1849880273_o-1- 14878942938 1939484_806864502676525_166500989_o 15042518826 barkant 15061824751 Scan0026 14878972717 Tooke Arms 15065167902 Tooke Arms Beano, 1927 21225559171 tooke-1 14878972297 tooke-3 14878819439 tooke-sign 14878943008

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 Pin & Cotter Outing(wjd2) 15062478451 union 15042501466


240 West Ferry Rd. The Vulcan was established by 1882 and was named to reflect the heavy industry prevalent in the area at the time. By 1992 all the industry had gone and the pub closed, becoming a grocer’s store and then a restaurant.


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Waterman’s Arms (formerly Newcastle Arms)

1 Glenaffric Avenue (formerly Newcastle St). The pub was first built in 1853, and was then known as the Newcastle Arms. It was largely rebuilt in its current form in 1937, and renamed the Waterman’s Arms in 1962. In 2011, this pub was renamed the Great Eastern.


In 1962 it achieved fashionable status when writer and broadcaster Dan Farson became the licensee. Farson’s declared aim was to create something of an old-time music-hall atmosphere. For a time the Waterman’s Arms enjoyed a ‘trendy’ reputation, with many famous visitors and performers.

2006 15509705841 304651_4296088210013_2061722295_n 14886056838 2468542957_995ae90b02_z 14848656938 Album Cover 15032198761 camerazoom-20131025141453351 15035258855 Street Party outside the Newcastle Arms 14848655278 watermans 01 14848710257

Staff having a well earned drink after a busy night at the Waterman's 1965. From left to right - Harry, Johnny Whitear, unknown barman, Licensee Gordon Alltoft. Photo courtesy of Tony Alltoft.

Staff having a well earned drink after a busy night at the Waterman’s 1965. From left to right – Harry, Johnny Whitear, unknown barman, Licensee Gordon Alltoft. Photo courtesy of Tony Alltoft.

Waterman's Arms 17612800145 Watermans Arms, 1960, Maurizio Berlincioni 14848522239 Watermans Arms, 1984, Mike Seaborne 14848708217 watermans-4- 15032197281 watermans-1965 14848521469

Waterman’s Arms (the original)

6 West Ferry Rd. In 1813 George Henn, a ship-chandler, built a beer house, later called the Waterman’s or Watermen’s Arms. It survived until at least 1921.


West India Dock Tavern

Cold Harbour, 1830-40 (approx)


west-india-dock-tavern-b1830-coldharbour 15065135562

The Windmill


Beer house at the end of Claude St, close to Millwall Pier, in a jumble of wooden structures built around the windmill (which was built in 1701). The windmill and all the buildings were burnt down in January 1884.

1843-millwall 15062456661

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24 Responses to Island Pubs and Beer Houses

  1. Mick, wow this is amazing ! some great photo’s as well. What are you going to do next !!!

  2. Excellent stuff Mick

  3. This is so good. Some amazing photos (eg vintage jag parked outside The Gun in moody lighting) and some great pub names: The Dewdrop and Magnet; The Vulcan; The North Pole; The Gut House!!

  4. Dave says:

    Fourth pic of the Robert Burns isn’t of the pub, but some original office buildings of the shipyard / Burrells Colour Works – now flats and an estate agent.

  5. Mel says:

    This is a really excellent blog. I moved to the Isle of Dogs a couple of years ago and love learning about its amazing history. Thanks for all of your work!

  6. Brian rhodes says:

    Breaks my heart to see what therv gone and done to the old island they call it progress perhaps it’s me but I’d luv to av keeled it as it was thanks. Many many many happy memories of the old place feeling now very nostalgic

  7. John Daykin says:

    An excellent site, I spent many happy hours in the Magnet and Dewdrop in the late 1970’s and early 80’s when I was a lorry driver and used to park up for the night on the old demolished wharfs and earlier in the 1970’s the company I worked for (Chris Metcalfe’s) had it’s London depot in Millwall Wharf, but then we used to stop at Canning Town in the motel. Thanks for the happy memories.

  8. James Lockwood says:

    Many thanks for including an image of the Torrington Arms, the first I have ever seen, which was in my family (the Crickmores) for two generations around 1900.

  9. peter avallone says:

    Hi i am peter avallone i played with the group in the magnet and dewdrop called the Intials
    1964 what great times they were.

  10. Pingback: The West India Dock Tavern | Isle of Dogs – Past Life, Past Lives

  11. I realise I’m behind the times a bit, but this is a great post. My Great Grandparents were landlords of The Prince of Wales from 1933-1940 and having shown the group photos posted here to my Grandma, discovered that my Great Nan is in both!

  12. rosspe97 says:

    My great grand parents were land lords of the Pier Tavern in the 1920s. The pub was owned by their ‘uncle walter’. He had made his money in India as a train driver and came back and bought the pub. But he couldn’t read or write, so my grand-mother’s family ran the pub for him.

  13. Peter kidd says:

    My great great grandfather Kidd, was landlord of the Magnet and Dewdrop in the 1860’s They sold ale and it was a blacksmiths too. The building shown here was built on the site of the old pub in 1939. The name is two ‘puns’ The Magnet ( attracting customers in) and Dewdrop ( as in ‘do drop in’) .

  14. Terry Knowles says:

    Thanks for a real trip down Memory Lane. I was a barman at the Queens and remember the Stevedore rush to ” get em in ” as soon as the door was unbolted at opening time. It was worse than the Pamplona Bull run. The landlady sacked me for chatting up the girls instead of pulling pints. Happy Days.

  15. jacqueline S says:

    Excellent history and pictures. I’m glad someone captured memories of these pubs before they disappeared forever.

  16. Jo White says:

    This makes wonderful reading. Does anyone remember The Brunswick pub? My Aunt & Uncle, Alf & Amy Mullet, (Amy nee Griffiths) ran that but I can’t find any trace of it here.

  17. Jo White says:

    Thank you for that info!

  18. Jo White says:

    I seem to get things a bit muddled – my father’s family (the White’s) were from Poplar and my mother’s family (the Griffiths’s) were from the Island.

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