The Three Crowns
A basement bar in a little used side street, the Three Crowns is not as popular a venue as once it was. Photos and newspaper clippings on the walls tell the story of how the pub stayed open during the blitz, giving the locals not just a place to shelter, but a place to gather, and to pass those terrifying nights with their community around them.
The current landlord, Alec Irving, is the spitting image of his great uncle, to judge from the pictures, but doesn’t seem to have inherited his community minded temperament, and the Three Crowns is known as something of an unreconstructed drinking den – no food, no TV, no music, just a landlord who’ll serve the pints from 7pm to midnight every night, and that’s your lot. As a result, it’s popular with the kind of people who meet in small groups for a quiet drink and to talk without being overheard. Every so often the police attempt to plant a couple of undercover in the place, but they never seem to turn up anything.
Arguably the most-raided pub on the estate, and with possibly with the least justification, to the point that Cal, the owner, is in the process of raising a civil suit for harassment. The police, for this part, point to the number of historical reports of people who’ve gone missing, but were last seen in the Europa (this has stopped in recent years, but was a genuine problem in the 60s and early 70s), and the other odd reports they’ve had of behaviour that can only be attributed to the consumption of hallucinogens and/or spiked drinks on the premises.
Cal points out that not a single raid has found drugs, and that after the third or fourth time it was suggested there was a problem with the drinks being spiked, he started advertising the presence of testing kits behind the bar. It’s not his fault if people bring things in from outside, or cannot handle their drinks and make odd reports.
The Terriss Theatre
To look at the frontage, the Terriss Theatre is a marvellous old Victorian Playhouse. The inside, however, is something quite different – a massive, empty space, the walls and roof held in place largely my complex scaffolding.
Before the war, the theatre was exactly what it appears to be from the outside. A theatre that sat over 1000 people. It wasn’t full the night it was bombed, by any means, and the audience was in the process of getting out the building and into air-raid shelters when the bombs hit, so in the end, only about 30 people died that night – mostly staff and cast, who were among the last to leave, having been occupied in getting people out.
The theatre never quite collapsed, and when the area was reddeveloped after the way, the decision was taken to preserve the frontage, and then rebuild the interior. Only somehow the interior was never rebuilt, and the money ran out. Every so often, money is found to keep shoring the building up, but somehow, it never goes further than that.
In recent years, the space has been used to put theatre on again, with a variety of different productions making use of the offbeat graffiti-ed space to stage some critically well received productions for short runs, and there’s talk of the management company looking to make that sort of arrangement permanent, if only they can find a theatre company to work with for a long run to establish the site. So far, that has proven elusive.
The oldest pub on the Thames, and named for the ship that famously moored here (to avoid taxes that might have been levied had they moored at one of the larger wharves) prior to setting off for the Americas. Local residents are proud of this tavern, but very few actually drink there, largely because of the quantities of tourists the place attracts. Still, there’s no denying that the current landlord, one Tom Calendar, runs a good pub, with excellent food, and a regular changing selection of ales available. Perhaps strangely, though, he serves absolutely nothing by the local brewery.