Sunday, April 1, 2012

The British Queen PH

Rick's Bar, 208 Trafalgar Road, Greenwich SE10 (on the corner with Tyler Street) is the latest southeast London pub to succumb to the relentless takeovers by bookmakers. The last pint has been served and the property is on the market with planning permission to convert the upstairs into six flats, but the ground floor is going to be yet another Ladbrokes. For most of its existence the pub was called the 'British Queen'. Whether the original, but now long gone, pub sign featured a female monarch or a ship called the British Queen I do not know. After being known as the British Queen, but before becoming Rick's Bar it was known as the Greenwich Village PH. It was apparently also at one point named the White Hart.

There were two other pubs, or beerhouses, in the area bearing the name of the British Queen. One was at Hughesfields in Deptford and the other at 65 Greenwich Church, but both are long gone.

The road was originally known as Woolwich Road, but this part was renamed Trafalgar Road late in the 19th Century.

The records relating to the British Queen include an attempted murder, allegations of perjury by police, pickpockets and an inquest held at the pub following the drowning of a police sergeant, but the first and last mentions are both bankruptcies: That of William John Buckland in 1848 and that of Arthur James Blackburn in 1968.

William Buckland appears to have been born 1st March 1811 and baptised at Deptford St Pauls on 20th March 1811. His parents James, a Carpenter, and Mary lived at Prospect Place. In 1840 William married Jane Esterford in Lewisham and in 1841 they were living in Brand Street in Greenwich, the census giving his occupation as a clerk and hers as a milliner. A son Edwin was born later in 1841 and a daughter Clara in 1844. It is not known when William and Jane took over the pub, but in early 1848 the following notice appeared in the London Gazette.

LONDON GAZETTE - 25 February 1848 - Issue number:20831- Page number:792 WHEREAS a Fiat in Bankruptcy, bearing date the 16th day of February 1848, is awarded and issued forth against William John Buckland, of the British Queen, East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, Licenced Victualler, and he being declared a bankrupt is hereby required to surrender himself to Henry John Shepherd, Esq. one of Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, on the 3d day of March next, and on the 14th day of April following, at half past one in the afternoon precisely on each day, at the Court of Bankruptcy, in Basinghall-street, in the city of London, and make a full discovery and disclosure of his estate and effects; when and where the creditors are to come prepared to prove their debts, and at the first sitting to choose assignees, and at the last sitting the said bankrupt is required to finish his examination. All persons indebted to the said bankrupt, or that have any of his effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to Mr. George John Graham, No. 25 Coleman-street, London, the Official Assignee, whom the Commissioner has appointed, and give notice to Messrs. Dimmock and Co. Solicitors, Clement's-lane.

The family resurface at 44 West Square, Southwark on the 1861 census. William is now an Upholsterer, but in 1864 it all goes wrong again:

William John Buckland, of No. 44, West-square, Southwark, in the county of Surrey. Upholsterer and Furniture Dealer, and late a Prisoner for Debt in Horsemonger-lane Gaol, in the county of Surrey, having been adjudged bankrupt by a Registrar of the Court of Bankruptcy in London, attending at the Gaol aforesaid, on tbe 22nd day of June, 1864, and the adjudication being directed to be prosecuted at the Court of Bankruptcy, Basingball-street, London, is hereby required to surrender himself to Henry Philip Roche. Esq., a Registrar of the said last-mentioned Court, at the first meeting of creditors to be held before the said Registrar, on the llth day of July next, at twelve at noon precisely, at the said Court. Mr. Herbert Harris Canniu, of No. 36, Basinghall-street, London, is the Official Assignee, and Mr. W. W. Aldridge, of No. 46, Moorgate-street, London, is the Solicitor acting in the bankruptcy.
(THE LONDON GAZETTE, JUNE 28, 1864. p3301)

William John Buckland died in Holburn in 1885.

The gazette notice for Arthur Blackburn's bankruptcy:

BLACKBURN, Arthur James, residing and carrying on business as a PUBLICAN, under the style of "British Queen", of 208, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London, S.E.10, and formerly residing at Whitehaven, Buckhurst Road, Biggin Hill, Kent. Court—CROYDON. Date of Filing Petition— 22nd Oct., 1968. No. of Matter—119 of 1968. Date of Receiving Order—22nd Oct., 1968. No. of Receiving Order—94. Whether Debtor's or Creditor's Petition—Debtor's.

and the notice of discharge:

BLACKBURN, Arthur James, residing and carrying on business as a PUBLICAN, under the style of "British Queen", of 208, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London, S.E.10, and formerly residing ait Whitehaven, Buckhurst Road, Biggin Hill, Kent. Court—CROYDON. No. of Matter—119 of 1968. Trustee's Name, Address and Description— Murrell, Vernon Charles, 100, Addiscombe Road, Croydon, CRO 5PQ, Certified Accountant.
Date of Release—23rd Sept., 1970.

There are fewer records relating to Mr Blackburn than to Mr Buckland. He does not appear in the Register of Electors or Telephone Directories from the 1960s. I presume that he is the Arthur James Blackburn born in Greenwich 18th Feb 1909, who died in Southwark in 1989, but I cannot be certain.

Further posts on the British Queen PH to follow.


  1. That's very interesting, Bill. I got quite excited that Mr. Buckland might be same man who I had fighting the bailiffs and police in the Alps - but, no, he was a Mr. Buckwell.
    But there does seem to have been a Buckland Road on the Peninsula - not sure where.
    I have been arguing and arguing about the proliferation of betting shops - and am urging people to support any attempts to get the legislation changed.

  2. Arthur Blackburn was a notorious landlord when I was growing up in Greenwich in the 50's and 60's. My parents were the landlords at The Bricklayers Arms and so we knew the Blackburns quite well. There is a great story to be told about the way in which their gambling debts led them to bankruptcy but I'm not sure this is the place to to tell it.

  3. Harriboy, thanks for that. I am always interested in good stories about south-east London pubs (whether or not I can publish them). My email is above: top right.

  4. Excellent! Thanks Bill. It is almost certain that William John Buckland was an elder brother to Henry Youngman Buckland. Henry was given the Freedom of the City of London on the 3rd of December 1846. He was the licensee of the 'The Dolphin' public house in Coleman Street, City of London, at that time, giving it up to his mother-in-law Maria Dunlap in February 1848.

  5. Also interestingly, his daughter Clara was the first girl child to be given the middle name 'Novello' after the famous English soprano Clara Novello. Another (unrelated) girl given the same names (Clara Novello Davis) went on to become the mother of David Ivor Davis, aka Ivor Novello.