Quite simply, the pub as we knew it is disappearing faster than my kids do when there's washing up to be done.

This blog is just a place to record pubs that are going or gone and an anecdote or two. The first eight are all within three miles of my home. If you have any you want to add, just send me a photo and a few sentences and I'll add them when I get a moment.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Prince Albert, Rochester Road, Burham, Kent

Now my nearest Chinese takeaway and quite a good takeaway it is too, but as The Prince Albert it seemed like one of those stalwart British pubs. No gimmicks, maybe a dart board, a menu that extended to crisps, peanuts and perhaps pork scratchings. I seem to remember drinking here with Maggie Parsons - a kindly and fun contemporary from my nursing days. Tragically, she liked places like this and The Pilot in Lower Stone Street too much, which I think contributed to her premature death. 

The Bridgewardens, Bluebell Hill, A229

This is the site but the pub was demolished some 20 years ago or so when the M2 roundabouts at the top of Bluebell Hill were extensively redeveloped. It was nicknamed 'The Busman's' because one of the seats in the bar appeared to have been taken straight out of an Maidstone and District bus (probably a 101 that went between Medway and Maidstone). At a time when we were too young to drink, even a dwarf like me could get served there...not that I had any money as that was all spent on Players No 6 cigarettes.

Fleur de Lys, Rochester Rd, Burham, Kent

This seemed to disappear overnight in 2010. The only photo I have myself is of the cleared site where it stood. The picture showing the pub comes from Burham Village's own site. Not that it will interest you, but this was the first pub I ever rode out to on my motorbike (a 1959 BSA D1 Bantam) with John Bell who had a Honda CD175. That would have been in 1978. Developers want to build a whole load of houses here now, but the villagers don't approve. Go Burham!

The Pottery Arms, Forstal Rd, Aylesford, Kent

Now converted to a B&B after a short spell as a rather bizarre Gothic destination when it was named the Grim Reaper. The Pottery Arms is near the river Medway and in front of an industrial site with several clay holes and used to have a pottery behind it. Not that they're connected, but there is still a pottery nearby at Aylesford Priory, which is worth a visit if you are nearby...and if you like pottery...or priories...or ducks (it has a duck pond).

The George Inn, Aylesford High Street, Kent

This can't technically be included in the recent wave of closures as it has been private residential for as long as I can remember -  some 30 years at least. Built in 1714, it retains its etched glass windows showing: the Public Bar; the Private Bar; and, Smoking Room (something else you don't see any more).

The Little Gem, Aylesford High Street, Kent

The Little Gem. Allegedly built in 1106. Restored in 1958. Closed in 2010. Reputed to be the smallest pub in Kent, it had a minuscule mezzanine floor and generally stocked a good range of real ales and ciders.

The Upper Bell, Bluebell Hill village, A229, Kent

It wasn't cheap booze but the re-routing of the A229 that did for The Upper Bell. At one time, all the traffic between Medway and Maidstone went past it. Now it only sees local traffic. This misty view is typical. It's at the top of Bluebell Hill on the North Downs - an area that always gets the first snow and low cloud. Immediately opposite the pub team used to pull tug-of-war. Another tradition that has largely gone.

The Walnut Tree, Bull Lane, Eccles, Kent

A barn of a building. When Eccles' population largely comprised families whose men were working in the Victorian chalk pits up the road and down at the cement factory past the clay'ole by the creek on the Medway this would have been rammed every pay day. When we moved here in the 80s it was run by a landlord who previously did a bit of stand up and confided “the only joke here now is the price of the beer”. It seemed at its friendliest to me when it had a phase as a family pub with a small children’s farm. Latterly, The Walnut Tree struggled to compete with The Red Bull up the road and is now rumoured to be up for demolition and development. Breezeblocking up the windows of a pub is probably a poor prognostic indicator for its viability as a business...

The pub is dead. Long live the...errrm... supermarket

It’s hard to exaggerate just how big a change has been happening to English drinking patterns in recent years. Cheap supermarket booze is one factor that has seen alcohol consumption shift from the pub to the living room with the resulting closure of 1000s of pubs. Whatever you think about alcohol (I no longer drink it) or pubs (I'm not a real man and never felt especially at home in them, so I've never had a pub I'd call 'my local') it's hard to describe the enormity of this change and the loss to our cultural heritage. The next generation will have little understanding of what the pub was like in the 20th Century. 
Anyway, this blog is for anyone to record memories of pubs we have lost. Ideally, posts will include a photo and a few sentences mentioning the name and location of the pub, maybe an anecdote. Essays may be edited down so please keep it short and to the point.
Disclaimer - This is mainly for memories, my own amusement and as a historical, photographic record of a dramatic change for my children (Manny and Sophie) and anyone else who is interested, but if you send me stuff then I will assume that you are have the legal right to do so and are content for me to do whatever I want with it. And if Penguin offer me a £1m advance to turn this into a book, then I'll willingly credit you for anything you send me, but won't be sending you any beer tokens!