To celebrate the return of the Fitzrovia Arts Festival, Nick Hennegan went to the opening event in Warren Mews, London, W1. There he meets (and tries to drink with!) the locals… who are writers, artists, historians, gallery owners, Soho tailors and office workers, all sharing a love for a unique and hidden part of London. And this gem of an area almost throws up the truth about… Jack the Ripper! (Sort of..!) — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/londonliterarypubs/message
After the launch of the Fitzrovia Arts Festival, Nick Hennegan has a reflective wander in London. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/londonliterarypubs/message
An interview with broadcaster Nick Hennegan – on Resonance 104.4fm and the Maverick Theatre Company YouTube Channel and BohemianBritain.com – and poet and critic Cahal Dallat about an ambitious project to raise £135,000 to celebrate W.B Yeats and his upbringing in Bedford Park, Chiswick, West London – the first Artists suburb in the world! See the Video HERE
For more information see www.wbyeatsbedfordpark.com
Twitter @YeatsBedfordPk — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/londonliterarypubs/message
Nick Hennegan celebrates the birthday of writer Arthur Conan Doyle with a rare vintage radio episode of Doyle’s most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/londonliterarypubs/message
The Palm Tree, Mile End.
127 Grove Road, London, E3 5RP
By Catherine O’Shea.
Entering the Palm Tree feels like stepping backwards into another time, or sideways into another world. First there is the matter of tracking it down, in the middle of a little park, not on any road – a stand alone relic. You may come at it from the canal that runs by, more likely you pass through a little thicket of trees and bushes and over a small bridge before crossing the car park to push open the door.
Inside, the Palm Tree is red. Red carpet, metallic red walls, red lighting. There are ageing photographs and illustrations on the wall and a piano and small stage in one corner – more on that later. Prop yourself up at the horseshoe bar, or grab a little table and stool around the edge of the pub. I hope you’ve brought cash, as they don’t take cards (the nearest ATM is up near a shop called Hello Fresh on Roman Road but it’s a walk of a few minutes so best done in advance rather than once you’ve arrived, although it is a dash I have done many times.)
The drinks are not the thing. Get a pint or a bottle of house red, open up a packet of peanuts on the table and settle in for the experience. Sometimes in the afternoon the pub is quiet and the air feels somnolent and if you’re the type of person who reads a book in the pub then this is where to do it. A regular may chat to you about it. That’s nice. But come the evenings and the weekend, and the vibe turns it up a notch, with a live jazz band – average age of band members, in their seventies – crooning and knocking out the classics from that aforementioned stage in the corner. Dancing with strangers may occur.
The bathrooms are freezing. The seating is not especially comfortable. Rumours of unfriendly service from Alf are greatly exaggerated in my opinion, but I’ll admit it’s certainly not a ‘the-customer-is-always-right’ situation and all the more authentic for it. When you’ve got sick of the blue light from your laptop or phone, when you’re tired of the grey glass and concrete of the city, when it’s wet or chilly or you’ve just become fatigued by the trials and tribulations of modern day life – then the warm red glow of the Palm Tree is where you must head to revive yourself.
Just remember, bring cash.
🍷🍷🍷 A must visit pub.
Nick Hennegan talks to the Rose Playhouse in London, about its fascinating history and a new series of webinars with some of their famous supporters, including Dame Janet Suzman.
THE BIRTH OF A LEGENDARY BOOZER. THE RAVEN, HAMMERSMITH, LONDON W6
The Raven for years, has been inconsistent, but brilliant. Run by a local crusty, then Aussies, then Kiwis (I think) and now the current regime is Irish, which always helps. Especially as my surname is Hennegan, to be sure, to be sure.
The building dates back to the 1830’s when it was a stable block and its current layout reflects this. It served the one-time Ravenscourt Manor, pulled down after bomb damage in the Blitz, apparently.
They also, intriguingly but illogically, have a book of birth records from the nearby Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospitalbehind the bar! The old hospital is now flats and I’m still not sure how the written records ended up behind the bar, but you get the occasional squeak of delight when someone finds their name whilst waiting for their Guinness to settle. There are also some famous births recorded apparently, including Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Zak Starkey, Daniel Radcliffe, Emily Franke, Mischa Barton and Dame Helen Mirren!
The glory of the Raven in 2021, like many pubs, is its management, who appreciate what a local pub should be. It is run by an independent pub group, which is usually very cool. But in this case the indies have seen what a great job the local management have done and put up the prices a bit.
But. Go. Do it. It’s not fussy or frilly and often gets noisy and boisterous during busy times. But I had a great conversation one night with a 25 year old Irish builder who was a fan of Brendan Behan and after too many pints of Guinness started quoting W.B Yeats. It’s opposite Stamford Brook tube station and it gets packed on Friday nights, when they have live music. It’s a fairly small pub and they show sport, but they have a small, tidy garden and a back room with wide clean tables for creative laptops and iPads.
There’s a lot to recommend it, apart from the high(ish) Beer prices. But The Raven has one Killer Feature. I think unique in all of London and perhaps because of its more relaxed management, I have NEVER been told to drink up and leave at the end of the night! If you are from other parts of the UK, or even the world, this might seem strange, but let me tell you brethren – London pubs for years have been TERRIBLE when it comes to drinking up and getting you out at the end of the night. 20 minutes after closing and you’re in the street. Terrible. The irony is that nowadays, since the 1997 Labour Government did away with the 1914 licensing laws that only allowed 20 minutes ‘drinking up time’, there is now no legal reason why we have to “drink up now!” And that is the BRILLIANCE of the current management. I think they appreciate our business! Of course, stashing 5 pints on the last bell might earn you a rebuff, but I’m not even sure about that! If you’re on a writing roll at the end of the night, the Raven rocks. It’s calm and quiet and they accept no-nonsense, but we writers are not going to extract the urine, as we say.
The location is great too, on the Chiswick/Hammersmith border, more or less opposite Stamford Brook Tube station.
So a good bo-ho place to create, apart from Friday nights. Although if you like live music, leave the laptop at home and rock up for a live and lively Friday night music session. They do good food until 10pm most nights too.
Nearest Tube – Stamford Brook.
🍷🍷🍷🍷 🍷 Almost Bo-ho Heaven. Live. there. That is all.