The Castle Pub Childshill
Today I visited my neighbour and good friend Mick. Normally I pop over once or twice a week and we have a good chat over tea, coffee or in summer, a cool beer :). Mick keeps me appraised of any local news. He told me about the closure of the last pub in our area- Childs Hill (Council Ward) 🙁
For over 100 years there were three pubs within easy (or staggering ;)) distance to our homes.
Mick and I have lived more than 50 years here and the pubs were important stitches in the social fabric of Childs Hill. Friends, family and workers would meet up there to unwind, relax, chill, chillax etc!
Local news, gossip and events were the currency of chat. There was rarely if any serious trouble or drunkenness at these pubs.
I have many fond memories of going to our nearest pub when I was much younger (45+ years ago), when my beloved mother and father were still alive. We would pop up to the pub named the ‘Red Lion’. Before I could legally drink alcohol I would have soft drinks such as Tizer or lemonade. When I was a bit older, my Dad would pour a small amount of his beer into my glass to sample. A few times during the year we would meet friends or relatives in the Red Lion and have good catch up chats.
Also the pub ran a Christmas Savings Club, whereby each week or month, regulars at the pub would give the pub landlord for safe keeping, a small amount of hard earned money to be saved during the year. Then near each Christmas, the moneys accumulated were divided out to the savers to spend on Christmas.
There were some pub outings, fun themed social evenings such as Halloween; ‘Quiz Nights’ & Karoake came later, as did delicious and reasonble costing ‘Gastro’ Pub Grub.
The Red Lion like many pubs of the time had a saloon, or lounge bar, a middle-class room—carpets on the floor, cushions on the seats, and a penny or two more on the prices, while the other or public bar, or tap room, remained working class with bare boards, sometimes with sawdust to absorb the spillages, hard bench seats, and cheap beer. The Red Lion also had a small off (sales) Licence which was an enclosed area where bottles of beer and other drinks cigarettes etc could be purchased to take home etc. When I was at the primary school opposite the Red Lion, fellow pupils and I would pop into the Off Licence of the pub and asked for any metal bottle tops removed from bottles of beer served in the pub. There where many varied colours, beer brewer company logos, patterns etc., on the tops. These became collectables and we would make them into badges on our school blazers (after school!).
I have many fond memories of the pub from those decades ago. The public bar had a piano for backgound music and singalongs. Ted, the near elderley father of one my neighbour/friends was a locally well known character and would brook no nonsense from anyone. Some evenings he would play the piano at the pub. To quote the very funny gag from the b briliant comedian Eric Morecambe, Ted would occasionally play the right musical notes but not necessarily in the right order:). This happened one evening we were there. After Ted had finished his musical rendition, a young dude drinking at a table made a loud comment that the piano player should practice more. A hush fell over the bar as we regulars awaited Ted’s reaction.
Barely a few heartbeats after this comment, Ted stood up from his piano stool and faced the young man. He said loudly “Son, I was playing the piano while you were still swimming about in your father’s left bollock (testicle)”. We all errupted in laughter and cheers for Ted as he put the teen (now red in the face) firmly in his place. Such memories are golden.
I took my Beloved wife & son to the Red Lion a few good times before it closed, So three generations of my family entered the well worn door of that hallowed house of drink;)
With the crushing economic woes afflicting our country, aided by high taxes and charges levied on pub managers by robber-baron pub owners (often anonymous retail chains). In the UK 26 pubs are closing a week (a total of 1,300 a year).
The Red Lion sadly closed about five years ago. It was like many other pubs subsequently converted into luxury private flat/apartments.
This year the next nearest pub ‘The Castle’ has also closed, now forlorn looking and derelict, it awaits it’s fate.
For a while Thai cooks prepared yummy Thai meals before it changed to more gastro and traditional meals.
Dennis Cooke, the friendly mine host & last landlord of The Castle worked hard to turn the pub into a trendy music themed venue. My wife had a fun evening with friends at a Rod Stewart impersonator event there. Stars from the past such as Georgie Fame appeared. John Lennon’s old band The Quarrymen played a gig too.
This shows how serious pub closures are if even excellent pubs cannot survive!
Dennis Cooke the last Landord at the Castle Pub, Childs Hill
Campaigning Councillor Jack Cohen and derelict Castle Pub
The Tavern, Childs Hill NW2
Now recently in the last three months, the last pub in our area, The Tavern(or also known as Cricklewood Tavern) has finally closed it’s inviting doors. It will become a mini supermarket, a satellite for the bigger supermarket chains, as is the trend now.
Being near Hampstead, celebrities occasionally visited our pubs.
For a short while, near the Tavern was the ‘The Production Village’ a movie themed pub/bar venue created by actress Emma Samms (Dynasty) father’s movie production company Samuelson Productions. It had movie props and a small pond with swans outside.
Each of these pubs had it’s own unique, enjoyable character, ambience and atmosphere, now lost but not forgotten by those of us fortunate to have frequented them.
My family and friends will miss drinking and dining at these pubs; times such as Christmas Eve before attending Midnight Mass, were an enjoyable & eagerly awaited times honoured traditions…only the magic memories will remain…
We need more capaigns to save & keep our precious pubs open!