Call me the blogger of doom. The Lord Rookwood on Leytonstone’s Cann Hall Road – as mentioned in my last post – has shut. Very suddenly and without warning.
The Rookwood opened in 1893 to serve the rows of characteristic London terraces that were being constructed nearby. These streets became home to the aspirational working classes from the ‘real’ East End. Leytonstone was where you went if you’d saved a few quid and wanted a better life than your parents and grandparents. The 1901 census for our road reveals that almost every resident had moved there from Bethnal Green or Stepney, and all (unlike their forebears) had ‘clean’ trades; typically dressmakers, bookkeepers or clerks down at the docks or in the City. The Rookwood was probably a very smart pub in its day. The outside is a handsome mash of high Victorian and ‘brewers Tudor’ and although the L-shaped interior was a symphony in cack-handed 70s and 80s refits, someone had the good sense to keep the fine etched windows and glazed brickwork. It was never first choice as a bolthole, having one lonely pump of ‘brown’ beer – usually Directors or London Pride – but it was a good place to drop by if you fancied a short walk for a long lager or three. The regulars and staff were a friendly bunch who’d make an effort to draw a stranger into their conversations and there was always someone wanting a game of pool, if you like that sort of thing. Latest rumour is that the area manager for Enterprise Inns considers The Rookwood to be viable and it could reopen in six or seven weeks after some mysterious ‘legal issues’ have been resolved.
Cann Hall Road’s other pub was the Colegrave, currently being converted into a mosque. This was built around the same time as the Rookwood and for the same reasons. It was a fairly big ol’ place, with an interior that was on CAMRA’s Heritage Pub Regional Inventory:
“A rare example of an intact refit from the 1950s or possibly early 1960s, a time when pubs still went in for multiple rooms of differing character. At the front a public bar and more intimate panelled snug served from the original counter and bar-back (note the Charrington advertising). Behind a vast lounge with wall panelling.”
Which sounds lovely. And I’m sure it was, once. I’m told I went in twice, neither occasion registering with me at all. In latter days it had become very run down, changing tenants several times until the East London Pub Company put it out of its misery about 3 years ago. Sometimes a building needs saving from a pub in order to survive. Certainly, under the new owners the place is looking happier than it has done for many years. Before the new signs went up these wonderfully preserved 30s-era Charringtons tiles were visible for the first time in decades – a nice last hurrah for the old pub.