by John Henwood and Alan Bateman
This post is very much a ‘work in progress’ and is by no means comprehensive. Readers are actively encouraged to contribute their memories and we eagerly anticipate these. In particular any further factual information would be most gratefully received and can be added to the post.
Before the late 1960s, Latimer Road took you all the way from North Pole Road, southwards until it joined with Norland Road and then Shepherd’s Bush. The building of the Westway and A3220 combined with slum clearance led to wholesale redelopment of much of the area with old road patterns disappearing as well. Latimer Road was truncated under Westway and then reappeared renamed as Freston Road. From the fourteen public houses along the route, only one remains as a functioning, working pub with the others demolished, used as flats, offices, and a supermarket.
1.THE NORTH POLE
13-15 North Pole Road, sited on the South east corner of Latimer Road was originally known as ‘The Globe’ when it was built in 1839 as a single storey inn. It was close to the north western edge of the Hippodrome racecourse and fronted Counters Creek which had yet to be culverted. With the Hippodrome closing in 1842, North Pole Road began to be developed. The pub was rebuilt c1872 as a three storey building forming the end of a short terrace on the south side between Latimer Road and Calderon Mews and renamed ‘The North Pole Hotel’. The first recorded reference to the new name appears in 1874 when James and Elizabeth Rutter are named as licensees. In 1844 the railway appeared running from Willesden to Kensington Olympia following the line of Counters Creek which in 1867 was incorporated into Bazalgette’s sewage system. The name change seems to have come about in a curious way; the original pub sign depicting a globe had weathered away leaving only the North Pole visible! For reasons currently unclear, the pub was rebuilt in 1892, confirmed by a date on the chimney and at this time it was referred to as the ‘New North Pole’. In the 1920’s a few doors along at 298/300 Latimer road the ‘Globe House Laundry’ was established, a clear reference to the original name.
In 1888/89 QPR had begun to play at the nearby gun club ground situated behind where Burlington Danes School now stands. Anecdotal evidence suggests that their opponents changed in the North Pole with the home team changing at the Latimer Arms further along Latimer Road. In the summer of 2012 it was bought by Riding House Properties who quickly closed it, leasing the ground floor to Tesco and converting the upper floors to residential flats.
2. THE BRITISH VOLUNTEER
274 Latimer Road, sited on the North east corner of the junction with Latimer Place.
First referred to in 1881 when the ‘beer retailer’ (landlord) was Joel Brown. It’s status as a ‘beer only’ pub, as dictated by it’s restricted license, remained until the 1950’s when a full license was granted. This restricted license was common among London pubs in the 19th century as pubs sprang up everywhere that new areas were developed. It was owned originally by Whitbread who at that time were the biggest brewery in the world, but was sold off in the 1990’s to Enterprise Inns. Between 1996 and ’98 it was occupied by squatters. It then became a pub/restaurant styled as ‘Latimer Place’ with the restaurant on the first floor, a venture which though reasonably popular ultimately failed after a few years. In July 2012 an application was made for conversion to a five bedroom family dwelling. In support of their application the owners cited the fact that the next door property, which had been a popular fried fish shop since the 1920s, had been granted residential planning on 3rd Nov. 2009, having been closed since 1987 due to diminishing turnover precipitated by the degeneration of the area in the 1960’s.
The pub appeared in the 1976 TV thriller, ‘Kill Two Birds’ starring Dudley Sutton.
It now cannot be accurately described as a pub and enjoys a ‘mixed’ reputation operating as a ‘Greek restaurant/bar’, opening spasmodically at the whim of leaseholder, Dimitri Kotsakis and is known as ‘Ariadne’s Nektar’ which I think it’s safe to say is unique among ‘pub’ names. It is currently the subject of an enforcement order relating to an exterior structure extending onto the Latimer rd pavement and it’s day’s as a pub look numbered.
3.THE LATIMER ARMS
1 Walmer Road, changed in 1966 to 198 Latimer Road.
The pub is sited on the north westerly tip of what was previously the Hippodrome Racecourse and the entire curve of Walmer road follows the line of the Racecourse palisade.
Built c1869 as a single storey inn and rebuilt later toward the end of the 19thcentury, it served as the match day H.Q of QPR in 1888/89, when they played at the Gun Club and again in 1901/2 when they played on a pitch where St. Marks Memorial Park now stands, before moving back to Kensal Rise prior to their eventual move to Loftus Road in 1917. The first recorded landlord is John Henry LeFevre whose tenancy was registered in July 1870. Unsurprisingly given the criminal nature of Notting Dale generally, The Latimer is connected with nefarious activity throughout it’s 100 odd years history, none more so than when it was centre stage for a succession of altercations that led ultimately to the murder of regular customer Billy Smith (real name James Hannington) on May 9th 1960 in Evesham street close to the pub. The feud between the victim and his assailants, Georgie Baker and members of the notorious Bell family, had been running for some time but matters started to become really serious following an incident on Friday April 22nd in the saloon bar between aged Irish barman Mick O’Donovan and Billy Smith and his friends resulting in Mick being floored by a punch to the jaw. Georgie Baker and Markie Bell who had been present, sided with the barman (who was sacked because of the incident) and the violence escalated on Sunday May 1st when in a packed saloon bar with the band playing, Ernie Bell held a handgun to Billy’s neck. As drinkers ducked or dived for the door Bell pulled the trigger but the gun failed whereupon Billy produced an ivory handled blade lashing out at Bell cutting his shoulder and groin, narrowly missing Georgie Baker and finally sinking the knife into the arm of Bell’s younger brother, Markie. Both victims wounds were stitched at St. Charles Hospital. When interviewed there by police Markie declined to give details of the attack but advised the officer that he would be returning the knife to it’s owner without his arm in it! Eight days later in Evesham street Ernie Bell fatally shot Billy Smith with a rifle receiving 7 years for manslaughter, the charge reduced from murder as Bell’s defence claimed Smith had attempted to throw a sledgehammer at Bell prior to the fatal shot being fired… though of course Smith was unable to refute this.
Whilst being a regular haunt of the criminal fraternity things were usually more convivial and in the 1950’s/60’s and music featured regularly. This consisted mostly of a two piece makeshift band with George on piano and Danny McDermott on even more makeshift drums (hard seat chair and two beer bottles), with the duo accompanying various singers drawn from the crowd. Danny was quite the musical virtuoso as he was famed for playing the spoons (same hard chair) when he wasn’t ‘drumming’. Rumour has it that a customer took a horse into the pub on one occasion in the 60’s/70’s.
In 1966 the whole of the western end of Walmer Road, except for the pub and adjoining building, was demolished to accommodate the West Cross Route and A40 extension. (see separate post ‘1966 and all that – The demolition of Walmer Road’) The original address was 1a Walmer Road, No1 being occupied by the adjoining Bible mission house which held two services a week; see extract from Post Office directory: file:///C:/Users/J%20Henwood/Downloads/p16445coll4_30257.pdf
Scenes from an episode of ‘Steptoe and Son’ were filmed here for which it was styled ‘The Skinners Arms’ and an advert for ‘Courage Best’ was filmed here in the 1980’s with Chas n’Dave playing over it, though ironically by the time it was screened the pub has ceased to sell cask ale. In common with most pubs in the area, the Westway demolition program (which obliterated most of the surrounding streets) precipitated a exodus of customers signalling their inevitable terminal decline.
It closed in the mid 1990’s when it was initially used as offices before being converted by Thames Reach, an organisation providing accommodation for the homeless.
4. THE FORESTERS ARMS,
Originally 1 Hatfield Terrace, later (c.1880) redesignated as 271 Latimer Road when Hatfield Terrace was absorbed into Latimer Road. Believed to be built in the 1850’s and by 1892 it was closed.
5. THE BRITANNIA
217 Latimer road, north west corner of junction with Bard (formerly Wharfe) road. Built 1859/60 closed c.1966/7 and demolished as part of the general ‘slum clearance’ making way for the Westway/West Cross Route. Remarkably, at one time Kensington boasted four ‘Britannia’ pubs, the others sited at Golborne Rd, Clarendon Rd and Allen St.
6. THE SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN
191 Latimer Road, opened c.1862 around the same time as the nearby Latymer Mission Hall was built (opened 1863). It was short lived and in the late 1890’s it was acquired by the next door Harrow Mission (Harrow Boys Club) and converted into an associated ‘Mens Club’. For many years after it’s closure it was referred to by Harrow club regulars as ‘Chris’s building’. In 1951 the premises were sold by the club. The building remains to this day largely preserved in it’s original state.
7. THE BRAMLEY ARMS
Formerly ‘The Robin Hood’ sited at 1 Bramley (formerly Bromley) Road and fronting Latimer road. The present building was constructed c.1870, the first recorded tenants in 1871 being John and Rose Empson licensed victuallers, however it is marked on Wylde’s 1846 map as ‘The Robin Hood’ strongly suggesting a tavern or inn existed at that date. It would almost certainly at that time have been a single storey inn
Featured in more films than any pub in the UK, including The Lavender Hill Mob, The Blue Lamp, Betrayal, Leo the Last, and more recently Quadrophenia and in 1986, Sid and Nancy – possibly it’s last film appearance as a pub. It closed in late 1988 and was converted to a mix of residential and office use.
8. THE TRAFALGAR
At 2, Bramley road, formerly ‘The Victory’ and known universally locally as ‘The Flag’. Situated diagonally opposite the ‘Bramley’ and fronting Latimer Road.
The first recorded landlord in Nov. 1854 was William Rogers however it existed in 1846 as it appears on Wyldes 1846 map of the area as ‘The Victory’. It seems logical that it opened sometime after the battle of Trafalgar (1805) and before Wyldes 1846 map was made however this may be a dangerous assumption as it could have existed prior to the 1805 battle and subsequently been renamed in honour of the flagship ‘Victory’. A glorious beginning maybe…but a somewhat inglorious end as sometime soon after closing in 1977 it became ‘The Notting Dale Community Law Centre’ when taken over by squatters and was finally boarded up in 1979 prior to demolition to make way for the ‘Frestonia’ rebuilding program.
9. THE VICTORIA
At 61 Latimer Road, sited on the south west corner of the junction with Hunt Street. The Victoria was first recorded in the 1871 census naming Joseph Bethell as the landlord. Probably built c.1870 to serve the Victorian cottages being constructed at the time along that part of Latimer rd. It featured in the 1968 film ‘Secret Ceremony’, starring Elizabeth Taylor. In 1979 it was demolished when it was absorbed into the ‘Frestonia’ rebuilding programme marking the southern end of that development with the rebuilt Hunt Street becoming Hunt Close which stands broadly on the same site but not occupying precisely the same footprint.
10. THE DUKE OF SUSSEX
27 Latimer Road, sited on the north west corner of the junction with Poynter Street (formerly Clifton St. changed c.1945)
Believed to have been built c.1854, a substantial and rather handsome white stucco building, the first recorded landlord in 1855 is S. Williams when it was owned by The Isleworth Brewery (St. Johns rd Isleworth est.1726) When in November 1923 this company was liquidated it was acquired by Watney Mann in whose ownership it remained until it’s closure. It was a very popular hostelry in the period before WW1, a fact highlighted in evidence given by the pub manager at an Old Bailey trial of a customer (William Frederick Jones of nearby Bomore road) on charges of fraud and deception involving jewellery:
HENRY DAWSON . I am a clerk, of 20, Bomore Road, North Kensington—I first met Jones on December 23rd, 1905, when he came to my room—he was living in the same house—I had seen him a month or six weeks before that, but had not known him—I have not seen him with Wilson before December 23rd; I have since—the day Jones came to my room he was brought by a woman who lived in the back room, whose husband is in the asylum, and who is living with another man—Jones then told me he had pawned a chain for £3 10s.—he showed me the pawn-ticket in the name of De Vere—he showed me another chain in tissue paper—I went out with him that evening—he had the chain then—he was wearing it the latter part of the evening—we went to the ‘Bush Hotel’, ‘The Telegraph’, and several houses in the neighbourhood of Shepherd’s Bush—at the Telegraph I saw Wilson and two others—Jones and Wilson talked together—on Christmas Day Jones and I went out—we had no money—Jones asked if I had got enough money to pay for a drink, and he would pay me back if he could sell this chain—we went into the Duke of Sussex, but the house was too full—Jones said he could not see the man he wanted to—he asked if we could get two dinners from the landlady, and he would pay me when he got money on the chain—between 1 and 3 o’clock we came out and went again to the Duke of Sussex about 6.30 or 7 p.m.—Jones handed the chain over the bar—we came out and walked up Latimer Road and came back, and I waited outside……..
On 27th Aug. 1963 the pub was ‘registered’ by H. M. Land registry and soon after was subject to a compulsory purchase order leading to it’s later closure and demolition in 1964 when the site was absorbed into the ‘Edward Woods Estate’. The original site of the pub is c.20 meters north west of the western flank of Stebbing House. RBKC recognised that with the necessary closure of two other local pubs (The ‘little’ Latimer and The Queens Arms) for the same reason, incoming residents of the new development would be without a ‘local’ so an alternative site for The Duke of Sussex was found at 27 St Annes Road. The new pub opened in 1965 and immediately became very popular with a young crowd however soon it’s customer base rapidly diminished due to the demolition (from 1966 onward) of large swathes of nearby housing to make way for the Westway. With it’s star firmly in the descendancy it was renamed ‘The Favourite’ but it’s brief period of renaissance had passed and it closed in 2011 and was listed for sale for £1.8m by Enterprise Inns (who had acquired Watney Reid Mann) with AG&G, (a specialist agents for licensed premises) in an endeavour to find someone willing to continue with it as a pub. Unsurprisingly this failed to attract a buyer and it’s demise was completed in May 2012 when it was marketed by Goldcrest Land for £2.2m-£2.4m with full detailed planning application for a six storey building comprising 84 student housing studios with one retail unit on the ground floor. It is currently owned by ‘Yara Central, Holland Park’ with rents ranging from £14.2k to £15.3k p.a.
11. THE LATIMER ARMS OR THE LITTLE LATIMER
Formerly the Latymer Arms, also known as ‘The ‘Little’ Latimer’, at 79 Norland Road, sited on south west corner of the junction with Swanscombe Road (formerly Boundary Lane, then Boundary Road).
It is probably the oldest pub in Latimer Road and is one of three pubs marked on J. Wyld’s map of 1846 (The Globe and The Duke of Sussex are the others). A single storey inn on the corner of Boundary Lane is mentioned by ‘The Old Inhabitant’ (whose identity is sadly unknown) in his earliest history of the area (1882 Kensington, Notting Hill & Paddington). In the mid 1830’s the West London Railway was under construction at the western end of Boundary Lane and maybe this inn served the men engaged in the works. When the inn was transformed into a typical Victorian three storey pub the quartered arms of Latymer and Wolverton feature in a prominent high position on the facade above the main entrance. This is in clear deference to Edward Latymer, after whom Latimer Road is named, who before his death in 1626, bequeathed 35 acres of field land north of Shepherds Bush ‘for the support of six poor men and the education of eight poor boys’ in the Charity school he founded in 1624. The precise location of the school remains unknown but the evidence points to it being sited broadly in the area of the Latymer Arms. There further remains the possibility that the Inn existed in the 18th or even 17th century. It is known that in the mid 19th century a large gipsy encampment of some 40 or 50 families occupied a nearby site where later St Clements Church was built, so the demand for an inn was obvious and it may be that this encampment was established even earlier. The first recorded landlord (in1881) is Henry Barwell, possibly a relation of Sid Barwell the owner of the large cafe on Wormwood Scrubs in the 1950’s/60’s. In 1965 the pub closed and was demolished to make way for the ‘Edward Woods’ Estate’. The site where it stood is a few yards north of the western flank of Boxmoor House.
12. QUEENS ARMS
Originally 26 then 49, Norland Road (the numbers changed in the 1940’s). On the south west corner of the junction with Hume Road. The first recorded landlord in 1854 was John Greaves Nicholson with the entry describing Mary Thornton Steele as the ‘outgoing tenant’ thus giving rise to the belief that the pub existed before 1854. Beyond that very little information exists regarding this pub. It is believed to have been demolished c1964/5 when it became part of the Edward Woods estate, namely Hume House which stands squarely on the site of the former pub.
13. STEWART ARMS
Originally at 11, then 26 Norland Road. (numbers on Norland Road changed in the 1940’s)
Sited on the east side of Norland Road, the first recorded mention of a landlord occurs in Feb 1867 when the late Thomas Verry is described as the outgoing tenant and Thomas Smith the incoming thus indicating it existed pre-1867. It is named after Charles Stewart, a wealthy barrister and M.P. who between 1841-45 was the principle developer of the entire Norland estate along with a solicitor, Charles Richardson who in Jan 1839 had purchased the 52 acres of land for £19,990. On New Years Eve,1888 it witnessed a violent robbery when three local young men followed a customer, Edward Savage from the pub into the street where they attacked him, beating him with a stick and robbing him of 5 shillings. At the Old Bailey on Feb 4th 1889, William Green, William Blake and Robert Wilkinson were found guilty and all sentenced to 18 months hard labour with 20 strokes of the cat.
The present attractive building dates from the late 1930’s built in typical style of the period though unusually for London it is constructed of red brick rather than yellow stocks or stucco finish. Originally owned by Courage and now owned by Enterprise Inns, it stands alone as the sole survivor of the fourteen pubs of Latimer road and as such assumes almost the status of an historical monument. It doubtless draws its current customer base largely from the nearby 746 homes of the Edward Woods estate. Recent customer views are positive and it was described by one as: “This not a restaurant but an amazing pub located a stones throw from the Hilton Kensington, it is a great escape from the Hilton world at a fraction of the cost. Happy hour goes on for hours.
The staff and patronage totally welcoming and I cannot recommend this pub highly enough for its atmosphere.”
Unusually for modern times the pub is still a three room pub albeit with openings in place of doors between rooms. Sadly it does not sell cask ale but we live in hope…..
14. THE ROYAL HOTEL
1 Norland Road, sited on the far south western corner of Norland Road and built in the late1840’s as part of the 52 acre Norland Estate development (1841-46). It is worth mentioning that up to the 1960’s Norland Road was home to a thriving market, a fact that doubtless helped support the five pubs within a few hundred yards. It was in fact the original ‘Shepherds Bush Market’ pre-dating the current market (established in 1914) by over fifty years and even pre-dating the arrival of the railway by ten. It was referred to as such by policeman John Searle giving evidence on 24th Oct 1853 at the Old Bailey trial of James Haynes for the murder of his wife (oh no, here we go again!). P.C Searle told the court: ”My beat is at Shepherd’s Bush, in the parish of Hammersmith. On Sunday evening, 11th September, I was on duty at the top of Shepherd’s Bush Market, near the Royal Hotel”. Sparing readers the grim details, Haynes was found guilty of manslaughter (on account of the evidence being circumstantial) and sentenced to transportation for life. The first recorded entry of a landlord appears in 1854 when Francis Edward Steele is named as the outgoing tenant, replaced by John Nesmith. The hotel was demolished in 1966 to accommodate the West Cross route though in the event the land upon which it stood was not used and later in the 1980’s the plot was subject of residential development into a house bearing the original address, 1 Norland Road.
PUBS – AN OVERVIEW: A VERY BRITISH INSTITUTION, WOVEN DEEP INTO THE SOCIAL FABRIC OF BRITAIN ….ETCHED INDELIBLY INTO OUR DNA…..SOME WOULD SAY THE VERITABLE LIFE BLOOD OF SOCIETY …..AS SOON AS ANY AREA BEGINS TO BE DEVELOPED WE SEE PUBS APPEAR…IT WOULD BE HARD TO FIND A TRUE BRITON WHO HAS NOT BEEN IN A PUB…. SOME OF US HAVE BEEN IN SEVERAL….PUBS – AN OVERVIEW: A VERY BRITISH INSTITUTION, WOVEN DEEP INTO THE SOCIAL FABRIC OF BRITAIN ….ETCHED INDELIBLY INTO OUR DNA…..SOME WOULD SAY THE VERITABLE LIFE BLOOD OF SOCIETY …..AS SOON AS ANY AREA BEGINS TO BE DEVELOPED WE SEE PUBS APPEAR…IT WOULD BE HARD TO FIND A TRUE BRITON WHO HAS NOT BEEN IN A PUB…. SOME OF US HAVE BEEN IN SEVERAL….
PUBS – AN OVERVIEW: A VERY BRITISH INSTITUTION, WOVEN DEEP INTO THE SOCIAL FABRIC OF BRITAIN ….ETCHED INDELIBLY INTO OUR DNA…..SOME WOULD SAY THE VERITABLE LIFE BLOOD OF SOCIETY …..AS SOON AS ANY AREA BEGINS TO BE DEVELOPED WE SEE PUBS APPEAR…IT WOULD BE HARD TO FIND A TRUE BRITON WHO HAS NOT BEEN IN A PUB…. SOME OF US HAVE BEEN IN SEVERAL….
John Henwood and Alan Bateman, 2020.