Technicalities

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The Olympics. How long ago that feels. When the entire world had its eyes on East London, Antic Ltd opened a pop-up pub in Leyton’s old town hall. We liked it. And so did many others. Antic applied to make The Leyton Technical a permanent fixture, a saga that took months of will-they-wont-they speculation, not helped by news stories like this. But a couple of weeks back, it did finally reopen.

It’s quiet on my saturday afternoon visit. The Detroit Emeralds are belting out Feel The Need In Me. Two or three tables are occupied by couples whispering over their pints. There’s a handful of solo drinkers and two blokes at the bar talking about house prices and the number of Spanish people in the area. The Leyton Technical is a big, multi-roomed pub. And it’s beautiful – the bar area with its gilded staircase to nowhere and the magnificent mosaic floor. The high ceilings lit by chintzy lamps and opulent chandeliers. Even the heads of unfortunate animals mounted on the walls. It all works. The furniture is a stew of oligarch’s yacht, old peoples home and the boardroom of a smalltown bank. Even the khazis are nice, though it does feel like Journey To The Centre of The Earth to get to them. A great deal of money has been spent, and spent well. You can see why it took them a year to reopen. The double-fronted bar has lots and lots of spirit bottles, some keg fonts and eight handpumps; three or four occupied by clips. Hydes Original is £3.60 pint. Malty and tangy and in decent if not brilliant nick. No sign of a haze that other visitors have reported. Is there a CAMRA discount? ‘Erm, not that I know of’ says the extra from a Plan B video behind the bar.

The Leyton Technical is gentrification, oozing its way Eastwards up Ruckholt road from Hackney Wick. This place could not have existed even two years ago. Leyton was where you lived if you’d been there all your life or you couldn’t afford to live anywhere else in central-ish London. I have a short movie taken when we first moved up the road to Leytonstone, some ten years ago. Mrs Wheels filmed our new neighbourhood from the back of my scooter. The streets are dowdy and unloved. Exhausted and worn out. Leyton High Road looks like it’s made from damp cardboard boxes. And it was like that for a long, long time. But the changes to Leyton and Leytonstone in recent years have been remarkable, the prime example being the enormous success of the Red Lion, showing the positive impact an excellent ‘destination’ pub can have. Even Waltham Forest council have started to notice after decades of neglect. They’re a hard outfit to like, but occasionally they get it right. The sprucing up of Leyton High Road for the Olympics being a case in point. This was such a hit that the project is being rolled out to other areas. It’s Leytonstone’s turn this year.

My next pint is Adnams Topaz, served with a smile after a taster. £3.50. Fresh and subtly hoppy. Condition is bang on. And It’s at this point I realise that I’m locked out, having picked up my scooter keys and not my house keys. Bugger. Reluctantly, I drink up.

As I leave I notice a blackboard behind the bar. ‘The Leyton Technical – Making Leyton Better Since 8.8.2013′ And you know what? It is. It really is.

About teninchwheels

Designer, photographer and Vespa-fixated pub bore. Born in Yorkshire, living in that London these past 20 years. Get in touch at teninchwheels@gmail.com, especially if you'd like to send me some free beer.
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15 Responses to Technicalities

  1. ally says:

    when i lived in leyton( under the link road) two of my pals and housemates petrol bombed leyton town hall. heaven only knows why. post apocalypse now booze soaked angst ridden situationist drenched insanity. they got caught straight away and went down for it. heartbreaking.
    x

  2. When I moved to Leytonstone three years ago, I could not imagine having two quality pubs on my doorstep. Everyone I’ve ever met, who’s said a bad word about Leytonstone instantly has their opinion changed when they go to the ‘Lion. Can’t wait for the sprucing up of the high street. TFC needs to a water cannon taken to it, to clean the dirt and grime from that green façade.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I shall add it to my list for checking out next time I’m in London.

  4. East10der says:

    “Leyton was where you lived if you’d been there all your life or you couldn’t afford to live anywhere else in central-ish London.”

    Little bit harsh. I bought a flat in Leyton five years ago. It looked dowdy and unloved, sure, but to me was by far one of the better pockets of olympic edge/north east London. Much worse were/are (in descending order) Plaistow, Canning Town, Tottenham, Stratford/Maryland and much of Walthamstow. Leyton never seemed especially dangerous or menacing. Just a bit poor, downtrodden and in need of some TLC. You could see behind the cracked paint and badly stuck-on shop fronts, that most of the original buildings were actually rather lovely. Something that, as you mention, the council used to their credit, in a rare act of intelligence.

    • “Leyton was where you lived if you’d been there all your life or you couldn’t afford to live anywhere else in central-ish London.”

      You’re right. I should have picked my wording more carefully. It’s a stupid generalisation.

  5. edwynuk says:

    I’ve lived in Leyton for 26 years and remember when the ‘scared white people’ drank in pubs that handed out free roast potatoes Sunday lunch times! few of them remain. Am very happy indeed to have the Leyton Technical, love the interior, the beer and your photo’s!….. oh and those stairs lead to the rather fabulous banqueting hall upstairs!

    • Thanks for commenting, edwynuk. Be nice if they open the upstairs – they did say in a tweet that they’ve got a lot more to come. Mind you, there doesn’t seem to be much progress in opening up the ballroom at the Red Lion, but I expect that’s in a bit of a state :-/

  6. edwynuk says:

    The great hall as it’s called is available to hire here: http://www.leevalleyestates.co.uk/site.html?site=15 It’s been restored and looks quite spectacular (I had a sneak peek when trying to find the loos in Leyton Library)

  7. Only just seen this -great stuff, nice when a place appears and seems to do things right, despite how ‘contemporary’ it may feel. Great piccies, as usual…

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