Description: Modern squat, 2 storey at highest, collection of brick and grimy glass boxes – 60s architecture. Located at the traffic intersection of the A13 Commercial Road (6 lanes) and the underpass into the southbound Blackwall tunnel (another 6 lanes, plus two slip lanes). Paved area in front allows waiting motorists to appreciate the pub, and drinkers to peer through the grubby nets at the humming traffic.
Front door to lounge on Commercial Road – boarded up, snapped off name sign above. Side door to bar on Blackwall slip road. Rear door from small car park with shattered glass held together by black gaffer tape. Behind the pub looms the concrete brutalist Balfron Tower.
The bar has a small stage in the top corner with a flimsy wooden balustrade. This has been decorated with 50 today balloons. Opposite corner of bar is a shrine to West Ham United with some awful caricatures of past players in yellowing frames. Rumble of traffic seeps thru the heavy curtains. It is the hottest day ever recorded – the curtains remain closed.
Action: Three sickly looking short pot-bellied men, one with his shirt off, wrestling to erect a cheap green gazebo in the car park in anticipation of the later 50th birthday party to be held in the gloomy bar. Asked if bar was open, told yes. ‘So we can get a drink?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Preparing for a function?’, no answer. The pub isn’t legally open yet. Went inside. Bar curtains heavily closed. All three men have half drunk pints already on the go. One is drinking from a porcelain Bierkruger and watching motionless a TV showing some romantic black and white film. A greasy little Yorkshire terrier circles the room occasionally coming up to us inviting a pat.