Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trollied Tuesday: Ghost Pubs

There is a certain melancholy attached to a boarded up, derelict pub. It's not universal, admittedly, some places really deserve to close; but in general the ghosts of conversations, laughter, friendships and good times past linger forlornly around them.

One of the saddest such pubs can be found in Maida Vale, close to the Regents Canal on Aberdeen Place. Its name is Crockers Folly and there is a genuinely tragic tale attached to it. The Victorian grandeur of the place - its moulded plaster and ornate windows and the vast marble interiors, add to the sense of desolation now that it is closed, but its sheer size, its gaudyness and ambition, seem incongruous for such a quiet secluded street.

The story goes that its founder, a man called Frank Crocker, had believed that it would sit opposite the new Marylebone station, which was eventually built half a mile away. The pub was a white elephant from the start and Crocker killed himself by throwing himself from an upstairs window in the pub. Okay, like most such stories it is probably untrue; but as a myth it does nicely illustrate the overweening ambition that would put such a pub in such a place.

To the best of my knowledge it has been closed for several years. I have no idea who owns it nor what plans exist for its future. (A quick Google search leaves me little the wiser, it could be yours for £4.25 million, apparently). The estate agents ominously talk about its potential for conversion into flats (don't they know there's a property slump on?) - even though its a Grade II listed building. I hope these recent photographs convey something of its potential to be a prime drinking location.

As I said at the start of this post, the loss of a pub is something generally to be deplored; the loss of this seems sadder than most.

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Blogger John said...

A most interesting little post. I don't know how it is that so many of the small pubs in London keep going, let alone the high-maintenance gin palaces such as this. I assume it was brought low by being just a bit off the tourist track, of such huge scale and in need of a wash and brush up inside. A shame - the exterior and doorway would leave an impression even after seven or eight pints.

Every time I go back to the north west now there is another pub gone for a burton, the windows boarded over, the car park empty. Sad. The latest is the Rope and Anchor at Dunham Massey, twixt Altrincham and Warrington. Not surprised it went though - a great big boozer in the middle of a tiny village with, as they say, no obvious means of support.

Plenty of the backstreet boozers in Wigan are closing too, and some of the dreadful booze canyon bars for the young folks - though they really do deserve to close.

10:13 am  

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