The historic pubs of Wapping

The Prospect of Whitby, built around 1520, is said to be London’s oldest riverside pub. The outside of the pub was covered in a beautiful floral display on the afternoon of my visit. At low tide, you can go down the steps by the side of the pub to the banks of the Thames.

Nearby is the Captain Kidd, a Samuel Smith’s pub which was converted from a warehouse. It has a large beer garden with great riverside views. The pub was named after the seventeenth century pirate William Kidd.

The Town of Ramsgate is Grade II listed, mainly for its interior, which has barely changed since the 1930s. It is also rated one star on CAMRA’s register of Historic Pub Interiors. The front area is the oldest part of the pub. The pub claims ‘if you visit during low tide, you can still see the post to which condemned pirates were chained to drown as the tide rose’. It’s a friendly, independent pub with a good selection of food and drinks on offer. There were four ales on at the time of my visit and I sampled the Portobello Summer Blonde with my lunch. There are small glass jars with the ales by the pumps, so you can see the colour of the ales. The barman said that some tourists thought they were samples and had tried to drink them on a recent visit!

Inside the Town of Ramsgate

Turners Old Star is a proper traditional East End family run boozer. The pub was busy with people watching football and playing pool in the back room on my visit. I enjoyed Heritage Brewing’s Happy as Larry which was the only cask ale available. The original Taylor Walker brewery lamps are still visible on the exterior and the interior retains some original features. It takes its name from the British artist J M W Turner (1775-1851) who created the building from two cottages.

Nearby is the former Turks Head. It became derelict when the docks began closing at the end of the 1960s because the dock workers were its main clientele. The exterior Taylor Walker tiling and signage has happily been preserved and is worth a visit. There is a sign on the outside giving a brief history and explaining how, in the 1980s, local people bought the derelict building from the council (who used it as a groundsman’s store) and restored the building. It then became a community café and space but now trades as a French bistro (La Tête De Turc).

All being well, here is one for the future. The Old Rose on The Highway, which dates from 1839 but has been closed since 2011, may yet reopen. The whole area near Tobacco Dock is being redeveloped for residential use and the planning permission, granted in 2022, specifies that the Old Rose public house shall only be used as a drinking establishment. Hopefully someone will take on the lease.

The Old Rose – fingers crossed…

Joanne Scott