When I first came to London to work I signed up for an organised pub crawl that ended in Greenwich, which I’d never visited before, at a pub called the Prince of Orange that was renowned for the quality of its jazz.
Sadly the pub is long gone, along with many others in the area, according to a newly-published book, Greenwich Pubs by David C. Ramzen (by Amberley Publishing). He describes the area in the mid-20th century as housing 190 pubs versus 40 today (within the old Parish boundary).
This is a sad state of affairs but he does not dwell on this as he makes a good case for heading to Greenwich right now with this book under your arm to investigate a good mix of pubs. Contributing to the demise of many boozers is extensive bomb damage in the Second World War and the ongoing regeneration of the area, which is still very much in evidence, judging my recent visit to this part of SE London.
The author runs through a history of Greenwich that very much includes his many years living in this part of town. His experiences very much feed into the profiles he gives of each of the 52 pubs featured – that are indicated on a very useful map.
The pubs each include a photo or two taken by the author, which often feature the landlord/manager alongside other pub employees. This will no doubt date the pub but it does give some personality to each of the pubs featured. These are mixed with some archive images.
Ramzen employs a very readable style and does not get bogged down too much in the history of each venue, which makes the publication a swift read and best employed as a guide book. It’s divided into three sections – dividing up the Greenwich area – along with an opening chapter on the history of beer in the area and a final chapter on the future of pubs in Greenwich.
This highlights challenging times for pubs as they look to find a new role in their local communities, which in the case of Greenwich has involved dramatic change. I’m sure Ramzan would endorse my view that you should get down to this part of London asap and experience some great pubs while they are all still around.
Glynn Davis, editor, Beer Insider