Prospect of Whitby
Historic London pub on the Thames
Historic London pub on the Thames at Wapping is The Prospect of Whitby. It lays claim to being the site of the oldest riverside tavern, dating from 1520. It was formerly known as the Devil’s Tavern, on account of its dubious reputation. Before that it was officially called The Pelican. All that remains from the building’s earliest period is the 400 year old stone floor. In former times it was a meeting place for sailors, smugglers, cut-throats and footpads. A footpad is an archaic term for a robber or thief specializing in pedestrian victims. The term was used widely from the 16th century until the 19th century, but gradually fell out of common use. A footpad was considered a low criminal, as opposed to the mounted highwayman who in certain cases might gain fame as well as notoriety Why does this Historic London pub deserve it’s own post in my blog? Quite simple really, I have so many fond memories dating back 50 years when I was very young enjoying my first great overseas adventure.
The Prospect of Whitby in December 1964
Here is a classic photo of my friends at the Prospect of Whitby 50 years ago in 1964. There were Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, English, and the very drunk lady in the bottom right hand corner was an opera singer from Yugoslavia. 😆
The guy with the pint & mouth open was my best friend & travelling companion, he went back to Oz before me & joined the army. Kieth Wagstaff with the beard was a kiwi who I travelled through Europe with. I have my arm around Shirley a cute pommie I was taking out occasionally. Simon in check jacket was Canadian.
Surely David Herd should be there.
I’m very disappointed my name is not on the sign. 🙁
Fire place at the Prospect of Whitby.
I don’t think this Historic London pub has changed much in 50 years, however the times I was there it was always packed to the rafters.
Naturally I ordered a Fosters
In the 17th century, it became the hostelry of choice of “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys, scourge of the Monmouth Rebellion. He lived nearby and a noose hangs by a window, commemorating his custom. He was chased by anti-Royalists into the nearby Town of Ramsgate, captured and taken to the Tower for his own safety. According to legend, criminals would be tied up to the posts at low tide and left there to drown when the tide came in. Execution Dock was actually by Wapping Old Stairs and generally used for pirates.
Lots of timber walls & creaking floors
Following a fire in the early 19th century, the tavern was rebuilt and renamed The Prospect of Whitby, after a Tyne collier that used to berth next to the pub. The Prospect was listed Grade II in December 1950. If you want to visit an Historic London pub this is one of the best. On the opposite side of the road (Wapping Wall) is the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, now an arts centre and restaurant.
Nooks & crannies everywhere
The public house features briefly in an episode of Only Fools And Horses. When Uncle Albert goes missing in one episode, Del Boy and Rodney travel around London looking for him. Nicholas Lyndhurst is shown in one scene walking out of the pub. There is also a scene from the 1956 film D-Day the Sixth of June starring Robert Taylor and Richard Todd where Taylor’s character is seen with Dana Wynter’s character having drinks together during the Second World War in London.
Historic London pub on the Thames
Sir Hugh Willoughby sailed from here in 1533 in a disastrous attempt to discover the North-East Passage to China.
100 meters from the Prospect of Whitby is Shadwell Basin
A lovely lake just up the road from the pub, you can see Westminster in the background. Shadwell Basin is the most significant body of water surviving from the historical London Docks. It is situated on the north side of the river Thames east (downstream) of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and west (upstream) of Limehouse. Unlike the rest of the London Docks which has been landfilled, Shadwell Basin, the most easterly part of the complex, has been retained. It is now a maritime square of 2.8 hectares used for recreational purposes (including sailing, canoeing and fishing) and is surrounded on three sides by a waterside housing development designed by British architects MacCormac, Jamieson, Prichard and Wright. The residential buildings are four and five storeys with façades of alternating open arches and enclosed structure, echoing the scale of traditional 19th century dockside warehouses, with a colonnade at quayside. Shadwell Basin is a popular public route for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians with a walkway alongside the water as part of the linked open spaces and canals between the river and Hermitage Basin near St Katharine Docks to the west.
Thanks for visiting my nostalgic post
To receive my latest posts please follow me on Twitter Follow @David_Herd Finally back to the 60s, the first photo is travelling to our favorite Historic London pub in Wapping on the tube, everybody is well dressed and in good shape. The 2nd photo is at the pub getting stuck into it. Finally we are all heading home to Earle’s court totally flyblown. 😆
On the way to Wapping
Everybody is quiet and well behaved.
At the pub
Things get messy very quickly.
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