PortCities London

Port pastimes



Rotherhithe Street and house next to the Angel pub before 1935.
View full size imageThe Angel tavern at Rotherhithe.

In the early 20th century, many of the Port of London's pubs were noisy by day with the serving of food and men finding work, and rowdier still by night with the dockers' drunken singing.

People felt a strong allegiance to their local pub. Some pubs opened at 5.30 am, offering a hearty breakfast of rum and coffee.

Friendly rivalry with other pubs gave rise to local football and rowing teams and 'beanos' (pub outings) took local people out of the city on day trips.

Hilda remembers going on a beano:

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An outing… the beano… before they set off, they'd all get in their coats and get their crates of beer. And all the kids would come round, and they would shout out, 'Throw
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out your mouldies!' and they'd throw pennies out of the window.

Peg remembers going to the pub with her parents:

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Mummy'd have a glass of wine for 4 pence, Daddy had a pint for 6 pence and I'd have
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an arrowroot biscuit and a packet of crisps.


Trafalgar Tavern
View full size imageTrafalgar Tavern

The 'local' has been losing popularity since the rise of pub chains offering standard food and drink at cheap prices. Large-screen TVs and gaming machines have taken over from traditional pub games.

However, along the Thames several traditional taverns can still be found, and although tourists have replaced the dockworkers, the maritime personality of the pubs remains.

Jordan has been to the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich:

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If you get the right table you can look over the
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river and see the traffic on the river and that's quite nice…


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