Beer gardens reopening with face masks, sanitisers and cobblestones
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Pubs with beer gardens and terraces reopening today are hoping the East End's traditional trade will return after months of lockdown.
They include the George Tavern in Stepney where an ale house has stood since the 1600s and The Blind Beggar in Whitechapel - which boasts being “the most famous in Britain” after Ronnie Kray shot a rival gangster there.
Social distancing still has to be observed and pub-goers need to wear face masks—though not when actually drinking or eating.
Landlady of the George Tavern in Commercial Road, Pauline Forster, said she has spent lockdown uncovering an old cobbled 17th century street in the beer garden at the back.
The tarmac covering the garden was removed to reveal an ancient cobbled highway - the old Charles Street at the time of the English Civil War when the tavern was a half-way house for Cromwell’s Parliamentary troops.
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The cobbles led to Rope Walk, where convicts were marched to be hanged.
The back yard was also once botanical gardens where plant specimens were cultivated from overseas after they had been landed at Tobacco Dock half-a-mile away in the old London Docks.
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Small tables made from recycled wood have been laid out according to social distancing rules at the George Tavern, while Pauline’s pub has been deep cleaned and had safety screens installed.
Also reopening is the pub claiming to have London’s biggest beer garden, The Blind Beggar in Whitechapel Road, where Ronnie Kray shot dead rival gangster George Cornell in 1966.
That was actually at the bar inside, not the garden. However, the garden is the venue for reunions of the Kray's former “firm” to raise money for charities and venues like Bethnal Green’s Repton Boxing Club, where the gangster twins learned to box.
Canary Wharf business district has also been getting ready to reopen after lockdown, with The Sipping Room sprucing up its alfresco terrace at West India Quay. The terrace bar and restaurant at the Grade II-listed quayside building overlooks the old docks.
Some watering holes have terraces on the Thames waterfront ready for the tide of business to return, like the Prospect of Whitby, the Captain Kidd and the Town of Ramsgate in Wapping — all steeped in history and now steeped in beer once again.
The Young Prince in Bow’s Roman Road is also reopening to welcome back regulars with new health and safety rules, masks required and staff disinfecting surfaces between visits.