Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Local Interest & History, People, Things I Like... > Quietly Famous – The Watermans Arms on the Isle of Dogs.

Quietly Famous – The Watermans Arms on the Isle of Dogs.

There’s a pub not far from us that closed down around Christmas time, which in itself was fairly unremarkable. I remember reading that about 30 pubs a week close down nationally, so we just assumed this was one more casualty of the smoking ban and the extortionate price of beer and that the site would soon become another block of flats.

To be honest, it was an odd place. It had a huge garden that never seemed to get any sun and the few times we went, the place was empty. Then there was the large bare room at the side which when we first moved here 10 years or so ago, was home to an Indian restaurant, now long since gone. All in all not really a place you would rush back to.

So imagine my surprise when it re-opened a few weeks ago, and it would appear from this planning document that they have high hopes for it…

Anyway I thought no more about it until, looking for something else online, I came across a number of references to The Waterman Arms, and it seems that 50 years ago, it was the in place to be…

In the early 1960’s, a certain Daniel Farson decided to set up a “singing pub” on the Isle of Dogs. I have to admit I didn’t recognise his name, but Wikipedia tells me that Dan Farson was a very popular TV personality during the late 1950’s and early 60’s, hosting his own chat show and producing a number of other well received programmes on the fledgling commercial TV network. Latterly he was also a respected writer, publishing in excess of 20 books.

Infamous throughout the gay Soho scene of the time, he decided he needed a change and moved out to the East End, living in Limehouse for some time before buying The Waterman Arms in 1962, because he thought it might be “fun to run a pub”. Having fallen in love with the local area and all its characters (so much so that he made a one hour TV special about East End pubs called “Time Gentlemen Please”) he decided he was going to indulge his love of Music Hall and create his own Variety venue on the banks of the River Thames.

For a number of reasons (boredom, no one really wanting a Music Hall revival and the “scene” moving on to the next place, being just 3 of them) the venture only lasted a few years, but in that time anyone who was anyone took a car over to the Isle of Dogs and had a drink or two with Dan: Francis Bacon, Kenneth Williams, Jacques Tati, Shirley Bassey, William Burroughs, Clint Eastwood, Judy Garland, Groucho Marx, Frankie Howerd and Brian Epstein are all said to have been regular visitors to this unassuming Victorian building whenever they were in town. It must have been quite an evening if Messers Howerd and Williams were on form… (it definitely feels like there’s a film in this story somewhere…)

Anyway, as is so often with this blog, another random fact added to the “weight of connectivity” that persuaded me to write this post, as I read recently in a local paper that Jools Holland used to walk through the Greenwich foot tunnel (or the Pipe as he called it) to play piano at the Waterman Arms in the mid 1970’s, which by that time had developed a reputation as a place for great Jazz.

One final connection is that having looked into all this on the net, it seems that The Watermans Arms also had a starring role in one of the best British gangster films of all time, The Long Good Friday, as it was in this very building that Bob Hoskins utters the immortal line “Walk to the car Billy, or I’ll blow your spine off”

So it would appear that my local is something of a landmark. The new proposals for this Grade II listed building include changing its name to “The Great Eastern” which (as far as I can tell) will be its third incarnation, being The Newcastle Arms for the first 100 or so years of its life, before Dan Farson changed its name and made it famous for a while.

Who knows, maybe this new refurbishment will kick start its fame all over again, and the celebs will come flocking once again to the Isle of Dogs (Christ, I hope not) ….

  1. Vin Scully
    October 18, 2011 at 13:18

    When I lived in England in the early sisties, I used frequent the Watermans some Saturday nights with a few mates. Not only was there a sing-along,but there were sometimes music hall type guest artists, including Edward Woodward. Woodward used to sing differenr songs, using props from a suitcase which he had with him- he would change costumes there & then. The clientele were mainly locals, with several generartions at the same table or booth. One night Woodward sang the Boer war song, `Goodby Dolly Gray`. Old ladies in the bar were crying. They were of an age that they could well have farewelled brothers or sweethearts to the war.It was a great pub.

  2. Dave Westren
    August 14, 2012 at 20:28

    I too used to frequent this great pub whilst working locally in 1970. At that time there was often a group called ‘Levity Lancers’ performing who incidentally also used to do Dolly Gray.
    However, the reason for my comment is that there was a group member ( I don’t know his name sadly ) who was absolutely fantastic on the clarinet. He was able to play each piece of the clarinet as he stripped it down to the reed, having previously asked a young lady in the bar to ‘hold his parts’. The whole group were very entertaining but this guy was exceptional.

    • August 15, 2012 at 09:42

      Good morning Dave,
      I’m trying to imagine how one would play the middle parts of clarinet without a reed, a skill indeed.. The Great Eastern (as it is now known) actually became a hostel in the end and to my surprise, seems to be doing quite well. Which at least means the building continues as a public place for a while longer and won’t become just another block of flats…
      Many thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

    • Chris meyer
      March 26, 2014 at 17:23

      We are trying to think of the singer’s name and believe it was Roger Mitchell aka Henry Champion. Is that right?The Levity Lancers were a great live band and we spent many happy hours listening to them at the Watermans Arms after walking through that tunnel. Local kids used to offer to “look after” the car so we went by bus and on foot.
      The other place for live entertainment was the Thomas a Beckett in the Old Kent Road and particularly to see the Lino Brothers and Inky.

    • Dave Warnell
      January 11, 2017 at 20:06

      The clarinet player was named Mac White and used to play with The Temperance Seven.
      Henry Champion used to alternatively call him the man in the white mac!

  3. Nichola rigg
    August 29, 2012 at 19:47

    I found this very interesting as my great
    grandad ARthur James Wetheridge Use to own this pub and at that time it was called the watermans arms which was way before dan farsons time,around 1920/30s but thankyou for the info you passed on.

    • Clive Roper
      October 31, 2012 at 18:36

      Nicola, must have been the old Watermans Arms elsewhere in the area that your Grandad owned as this pub was called the Newcastle Arms before Dan Farson took the tenancy on, he changed the name to Watermans…..Must say although it is great to see the place open, it would have been nice to see it as a decent pub doing good food etc rather than converting upstairs to a cheap travellers hostel. I always think a pub has a far better atmosphere with the landlord/manager living on site..now it could be a bar anywhere, which is a shame as it has a great location. Also a shame the pub owners sold off the whole garden before the current leaseholders took the building over.

  4. Thomas
    August 31, 2012 at 23:27

    This joint actually looks great now, both inside and out. Clearly, it has changed hands recently. The lager selection is still the usual London suburb style, this is something they could improve on. When I was there they also tried some sort of an ale festival, alhtough the selection was not that great. A brilliiant initiative anyway:) Good luck, guys!

    • September 3, 2012 at 09:53

      Howdy thomas,
      I saw the recent ale fesitval advertised, but didn’t actually make it along. Still, the place seems much busier than in all the time we’ve lived here which can only be a good thing.
      Many thanks for visiting and responding
      Joe Blogs

  5. Kevin Mcmahon
    September 21, 2012 at 10:18

    I organised a stag coach trip to this pub in 1970 from Herts. It was simply an amazing place and people came from miles around. It was the reincarnation of music hall with camp performers and trad jazz bands (of the George Melly type) with local stevedores and characters in the crowd. It had a wonderful, raucous atmoshpere. (One of our number picked uop the singer on his shoulders and ran round the bar with him, for example!!). A popular TV show called “Stars and Garters” was based on the pub (directed, I belive, by Dan Farsons).

    I’m glad I went when I did.

    • September 24, 2012 at 10:54

      Hi Kevin
      It sounds like it was the place to be “back in the day”… and after several years in decline, the place has definitley become more livley, although it is a travellers hostel now selling cheap pizzas and internet connections.. Still at least it’s still a pub and not another block of flats.
      thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment

  6. Geoffrey Marsh
    October 8, 2012 at 20:45

    I also used the pub in the seventies at weekends, and also remember The levity Lancers. After The Watermans they played down stairs in a pub in Leicester Square, which had no atmoshpere at all. I remember many young ladies holding the clarinet parts. You had to give the local kids outside 5 bob to look after your car, and there were coach parties with Americans popping in and out. Good music, a camp compare and great Victorian sing along. A great place and how lucky we were to share this, being greeted by the compare,”How many of us in tonight” and every one waving their handkerchiefs in a camp way. Great memories.

    • October 9, 2012 at 10:16

      Hi Geoffrey
      it seems that the Waterman Arms and Dan Farson’s “vision” of what it could be left a lasting impression on anyone that made it there in it’s heyday. Many thanks for visiting and taking the time to share your memories…

    • Nick Bannister
      February 14, 2018 at 18:34

      It used to be a good pub crawl in the early 1970s. Starting at the Prospect of Whitby, then to a narrow pub overlooking the Thames and ending up listening to the Levity Lancers at the Waterman’s Arms. Those were the days!!!

      • Nick Bannister
        February 14, 2018 at 19:00

        The long narrow pub in the middle of our pub crawl was the Bunch of Grapes, now known as the Grapes.

  7. Steve
    February 5, 2013 at 21:04

    I remember visiting as a teenager of 13 or 14. I recall a lot of what has been commented on. My parents used to visit the Watermans Arms every saturday night and also Sunday lunchtimes on the odd occasion, where many celebs from stage, film and TV would show. Some from the West End shows would do an impromptu act. I recently met Keith Nicholls from the Liberty Lancers at my local theatre, had not seen him for 40 years!!

  8. March 9, 2013 at 15:30

    My grandmother Mabel Elizabeth Hobbs/Taylor/Court/Smith was landlady of The Newcastle Arms in the 1930s to about 1940 when her 2nd husband George Smith died. She raised 5 children here mostly unaided because she was a widow. My father and uncles always had happy memories of growing up there.

  9. Allan Mason
    March 24, 2013 at 23:43

    I used to frequent this memorable pub in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and new years eves were astonishing! I knew some of the musicians there and once stood in for the pianist (just!). The MC was as camp as they come, hilarious. Forgotten his name. I have some photos I took in there somewhere, I really must dig them out. Also I have stereo recordings somewhere I made there. (One of my hobbies!) I must dig those out as well! There were great pics up on the wall of celebrities who had been there.
    We always drove up to greenwich from the Purley area where most of my mates lived, and walked through the tunnel. I
    I have always wanted to gfo back there, and assumed it was demolished like a lot of the area. So really great its a listed building and might re-open. I will keep an eye out for that!

    • March 25, 2013 at 09:39

      Hi Allan
      The pub is still open and seems to be doing Ok as a hostel.. It must have been quite a time back then. I’ve had so many comments on this post from people who obviously have very fond memories of the place…
      I wrote at the time that the Dan Farson story felt like it could/ should be made into a film, and after all these comments, it seems like there would be an audience for it as well…
      Many thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

  10. Peter Calvert
    March 31, 2013 at 11:51

    I also frequented the Watermans in the late 60s with my mates etc. The Levity Lancers were the attraction and my then girlfriend was one of the helpers holding the clarinettist’s parts.during “Running Wild”.I can’t remember his name ,but the singer called himself “Mr Henry Champion” I think .The camp compere was a certain “Johnny” I seem to remember.Ahh such memories .

  11. John Donaldson
    April 13, 2013 at 13:43

    Folks, my father used to be the licensee who ran the Watermans Arms for a number of years. His name was Sam Donaldson, probably known better as Mick. I would love to find the pub and come down and have a look around and see if tere are any references to my dad. He sadly passed away 3 years ago. Any more info would be greatly appreciated.
    John Donaldson

  12. Malcolm
    April 28, 2013 at 11:38

    I was a regular at W A in’68 when my friend Mac White introduced The Levity Lancers with a Mr Henry Champion.. The notes were riotous And we still managed to drive home!

  13. leyton1
    June 14, 2013 at 22:52

    there is a video on youtube of mrs shufflewick performing at the watermans i think or somewhere comparabe can be found on youtube
    quite brilliant

  14. mick surge
    August 11, 2013 at 23:57

    I used to visit the watermans arms in the late sixties..i was a crewmember of a north east collier,,we ran coal from the north to the thames power stations..the river was pretty busy back then..it was a favourite haunt of seamen ..happy days…Charlie browns was another strange but interesting bar mick

  15. jan
    September 25, 2013 at 19:18

    My mother and father married in 1936, Their reception was at the Newcastle Arms and I have a photo somewhere of them in the wedding group in the garden of the pub.

    • September 26, 2013 at 13:58

      Hi Jan
      The garden is no more I’m afraid, it’s currently all heras fenced off and looks as if redevelopment is imminent…
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment..

  16. Bob Edwards
    November 4, 2013 at 01:30

    There was also a “comic” called Lord Billy Wray.

  17. Jonnie Turner
    December 6, 2013 at 09:43


  18. Robert Sapsford
    December 30, 2013 at 15:18

    My Grandparents, (Sapsford) house was just three doors down from the Watermans Arms, it has been knocked down now but they moved from Samuda St. before the war and always referred to the pub as the Newcastle. When me and two of my brothers where born we lived there until 1954, the house was crowded and, at the age of four we moved, for two years we became Essex boys. We move back when my Mum got homesick, she was a Lowther and we had a lot of us on the Island. But the Watermans became part of us kids ‘social scene’ when at the age of 13 all our mates (about 40 kids) would crowd around the front hoping to get a gimps of famous people dragged down to the rough end of town to see how us poor people spent a Saturday night. Even at this young age we recognised that we were looked down on and we all grew up stronger for it.

  19. Malcolm Hannan
    December 30, 2013 at 21:28

    I used to visit with mates on a Saturday night in 1965 and remember singing along with the crowd to Kim Cordell belting out Susie Susie sitting on a seat etc.

  20. April 17, 2014 at 16:00

    My mum used to work for Danny Farson years ago at the Waterman’s. They had big celebrity
    parties that my mum would help organise. She was friends with a lot of the local faces as they were called at the time. She would tell us stories about the goings on. She even met my dad when he was a singer there. Sadly she died recently but left me a treasured album that was recorded at the Waterman’s featuring the likes of Mrs Shufflewick. I don’t believe there are many in circulation but this one is staying with me


    • alec
      April 21, 2014 at 14:41

      i’m a bit of a music hall enthusiast so this is a nice little bit of the jigsaw
      there is footage of mrs shufflewick on youtube – i wonder if it matches your vinyl
      a biography was also published just a few years ago
      many thanks for your post it must have been some place!

  21. July 18, 2014 at 20:01

    Well, wow – on a trip down Memory Lane I googled the Watermans and look what i found! A lot of half-memories – so maybe I can provide the other half.
    In 1962, a well-know pub architect called Roderick Gradidge was given £4,000 (not a bad whack then) by the brewers to do up a pub that his friend Dan Farson, the Terror of Soho, had just bought to turn into a music pub. And I helped Roddy sketch out his first plans on the back of several envelopes.
    Docklands then was the new home of music hall – half London, especially the gay half, would pour down East at weekends for a night of heavy drinking and specacular amateur pub cabaret – at the Iron Bridge, the Deuragon, and a host of other very mixed venues – dockers, the Krays, racketty young debs, show-biz, everyone came, first eating at The Good Friends, a fabulous chinese restaurant off Cable Street.
    Dan thought he could make a lot of moneyand HE DID. We used his vast collection of old Music Hall posters and a specially reprinted Victorian wallpaper (by Voisey) as decor and stuck up a huge blow-up of Ida Barr, the singer, in her Victorian heyday, as backdrop to the tiny stage.
    The opening night was epic. Think red carpet at the Baftas plus a prison break-out at Wormwood Scrubs. We even got Ida Barr along in her late eighties to be the star of the evening. (My god – I’ll soon be nearly as old as she was then, and Roddy is years dead ago – google the broadsheet obituaries).
    You cannot BELIEVE what a heady mix of drink and minor violence and sex and sheer bloody excitement and adventure the East End was in 62/63, before the Swinging Sixties blew in and took the pressure off the pressure cooker.
    And the Watermans was so famous by way of Telly and write-ups that even everyone’s respectable suburban in-laws begged for a chance to visit., dying of fright and with their hands clasped on their wallets, but loving every minute of it.

    • David
      August 30, 2014 at 18:02

      You are exactly right Bridget. More especially your writing is so evocativeI tried to email you. Of course I couldn’t but love the address

  22. Tony
    September 23, 2014 at 16:34

    Brings back very fond memories of my childhood, (aged 14/15) as my father and mother managed the pub for Farsons in 1963 thru 1965. Great times and great memories.

  23. Old Timer
    September 25, 2014 at 13:11

    I used to drink in the Watermans in the late seventies/ early eighties with my mates. We had a band called E.14 and often used to play there and practice upstairs in the function room. I think the landlord at the time was called Brian (I might be wrong) and he would let us practice there for free on the understanding that he could sing along to ‘The house of the rising sun’ in the bar on a Friday night.

  24. Old Timer
    September 25, 2014 at 13:13

    Would be great if anyone had any old film of E.14

    • September 26, 2014 at 08:57

      Hi Old Timer.
      there are some excellent sites about the Isle of Dogs and its history. This one is particularly good… http://islandhistory.wordpress.com/?s=watermans&submit=Search I’m sure that I’ve seen video clips from the sixties and it’s certainly worth contacting the authors of the site…
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment
      Joe Blogs

  25. Brian
    October 16, 2014 at 13:36

    Among the celebrities I used to see at the Waterman’s Arms were Judy Garland, Dionne Warwick and who could forget ‘Bob The Tray’?
    Brian (Thailand).

  26. Jean Hollis
    November 9, 2014 at 11:48

    So glad I came across this amazing collection of stories and info about The Waterman’s Arms! During the early 70’s my Dad would make a monthly trip on a Tuesday with myself, Mum and his Sister to this pub for the music hall style sing song nights featuring a great foursome called ‘Beaus and Belles’ – 2 guys and 2 women. It was a wonderful atmosphere every visit, though a particularly sad one on their eventual last night. I do also recall the picture of Ida Barr which I’d completely forgotten about until reading this great collection!
    In the mid 70’s I did actually visit the pub to see a group called ‘Carousel’ who had been regulars at a pub in Romford for quite some time previously. This particular night though they were performing with Brian Poole (ex-Tremeloes) who I think was also their manager at the time?

  27. allan mason
    November 9, 2014 at 17:49

    I have found a couple of ektachrome slides I took back in august 67 of the band, happy to post scans of them here but not sure how to upload them. I think the MC/singer was called Bill but cant be certain. I did know the drummer at the time as he played in another band I knew but name has gone. I even sat in and played a couple of numbers on the piano, I think the band’s real pianist had the same name as me! Had some great evenings, especially new year’s eves!

    • November 9, 2014 at 20:21

      Hi Allan
      I don’t think you can upload photos to the comments section… You could try contacting Mick who runs the Isle of Dogs – Past Life, Past Lives at this site:
      he may well be interested in your photos.
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment

      • Clive
        November 10, 2014 at 09:12

        The Great Eastern is still up for sale for a leasehold premium of £145,000, rent of £50,000 per year. Impossible to run it with those figures. Ironically both the Ex Pier Tavern and Ferry House pubs are for sale as well. Sadly it tells a story for the area.

  28. Alex Panter
    May 24, 2015 at 20:24

    My dad was in the band, The Levity Lancers who played here regularly.

    • Roger Mitchell
      August 30, 2016 at 10:06

      Hi there Alex, I was the singer with the Levity Lancers the name being Roger Mitchell although I was Henry Champion in those days when your dad was known as Albert Dock . He was an incredible percusionist, especially on washboard and skulls etc. and played some mean spoons. Phil Seaman, who was the top session drummer in the country at the time, used to come down to the Watermans regularly to marvel at your dad.There are many stories about our times together and I lived for a while in a house in Balham with my future wife in a ground floor flat with Mick and your Gran upstairs in what might be considered as once your ancestral home.He was even best man at our wedding so he was definitely a very good friend. We lost contact and I would love to know what happened to him. I have one publicity picture of the band which I will forward to you if you like, Cheers, Roger

      • Nick Hubert
        December 5, 2019 at 23:21

        Hi Roger. I met you with Mike Pointon up in Blackpool in 1968 and then went to see you at WA – with Mac and Keith. I often meet up with MikeP. Lets meet up. Mac’s son plays with the Barber Band

      • Roger Mitchell
        January 7, 2020 at 15:13

        Hi Nick, Nice to have been thought of after so many years. I am now living in Spain and still sing a little. I looked up Macs son on the internet and he looks like a double of his dad. Give my best wishes to Mike Pointon and all the very best, Cheers, Roger

  29. mike
    July 22, 2015 at 15:14

    Me as the Londoner plus my Aussie mates spent many a wonderful sunday evening at the Watermans in 1963/64
    great sing-alongs and acts Kim Cordell,Mrs Shufflewick,Bob?the crazy singing tray head banger etc
    great atmosphere all in together Stars and Punters no differential
    plus rarely any fights or “Yobbo” trouble then easily sorted!
    good memories thanks for the nostalgic article Mike now living in Vancouver BC Canada

  30. Dave Holland
    August 29, 2015 at 19:05

    The Levity Lancers used to play at another great London pub – The Iron Bridge Tavern in Canning Town. They were billed as ‘Lord Billy Wray & his Levity Lancers’. “Lord” Billy had a ‘handle-bar’ moustache and would dress in all sorts of various costumes to suit the songs.
    I well remember the stripping of the clarinet routine where, once the guy had only the mouthpiece left, he would then ‘strain’ to get the final high note (several times) while the rest of the band stopped playing and would stand watching ‘aghast’. Just as he managed to hit the note, there was a flash and a huge bang! and a cloud of smoke went up where one of the road crew had ignited a thunderflash! (no worries about Health & Safety then!) Most of my pint ended up down my shirt, as did everybody else’s I suspect! They had to open all the doors for ten minutes to clear the smoke – no wonder I only ever see them do that the once!

  31. Tony Seigal
    May 31, 2016 at 21:02

    I, too, remember enjoying the Levity Lancers and the whole packed pub joining in the great Victorian music hall songs like Joshua and Henry the Eighth. Does anyone have a recording? By the way, I drove over from west London and had no problem leaving my car nearby!

  32. June 2, 2016 at 18:01

    I have a couple of vinyl 7″ that my dad gave me.

    • Tony Seigal
      June 2, 2016 at 19:15

      I’m afraid I dont have a record player. Can you say what the tracks are, or some of them.

  33. June 4, 2016 at 15:43

    Brown Sugar, Rhythm King, Ory’s Creole Trombone & It’s a Great Big Shame. What a Mouth ison you tube.

    • Anthony Seigal
      June 4, 2016 at 16:11

      Thanks for this information

  34. keith nichols
    February 28, 2017 at 13:29

    Keith Nichols here..
    I was the pianist with the Levity Lancers. We started at the Watermans Arms in mid 1967, and left the next year to do a long tour of the middle east. The licencee at that time was Reg Rees, who also ran the Vulcan up the road. Later the licencee was Gary Larkin.
    I wonder whether Alex Panter ever found his father. It’s nice that Roger Mitchell (Henry Champion) posted something. He was a wonderful frontman for us. The clarinetist Mac White is still living, but stopped playing some years back because of ill health.
    It’s great that there has been this discussion about the Watermans Arms. It was wonderful in those years. The stage proscenium arch had been made by students,and was festooned with dockland scenes. but the owners in later years chopped it up and burnt it in the garden.
    I remember a large photograph of Stephen Ward (Profumo affair) hanging above the gents toilet. regarding film, the Levity Lancers were filmed in the Watermans several times. These will be lying in film archives somewhere.
    lovely memories…..

    • Tony Seigal
      February 28, 2017 at 20:52

      I used to travel from West London on Sunday evenings chiefly for the band, the Levity Lancers. They were great, as was the whole atmosphere. I would love to find one of their recordings, on vinyl presumably. A culture shock for me in that the people there seemed quite different to what I knew in west London. I also remember eating at one of I think two nearby Chinese restaurants. Happy times.

  35. February 28, 2017 at 18:54

    To everyone that has read and responded to this post

    I’d like to say thank you. Reading through your replies has been hugely enjoyable. It’s not often that a post generates such overwhelmingly positive memories, a part of me definitely wishes I’d been there to experience those heady days.

    Please keep responding and spreading the word. You never know, that film might just get made with this much material to base a story on….

    Joe Blogs

    • Roger Mitchell
      March 1, 2017 at 11:11

      Hello Joe Blogs, Many thanks for the continued saga of the Watermans Arms and I have contacted Keith “Knuckles” Nichols and we have shared a few memories of playing there with the Levity Lancers.. It seems like it was yesterday but it is 50 years this year. Fancy a reunion Keith? I’m sure we could find a venue and I would fly in from Spain where I now live. Cheers, Roger

  36. John donaldson
    April 20, 2017 at 10:53

    Hello Joe . . . .my dad used to run the Watermans Arms many years ago. I took my son down there 2 years ago and have pictures of me serving a pint behind the bar. My dad was even mentioned in a book about Dan Farson. He also knew a Lady Rose McClaren who used to visit the place. He often spoke about his time working there and the big celebrities that used to come in from the West End. Also about the Kray twins who called in looking for a few quid.
    John Donaldson

  37. April 30, 2017 at 21:01

    Hi Keith & Roger, sadly Mick died a few years ago but we were back in touch. It’s great to hear him spoken so highly of. You may not have appreciated his spoon playing at 6am when he was getting ready for work! I do a fair bit of DJ’ing, all vinyl, mainly punk & ska but I often play the Levity Lancers & Spencers Washboard Kings singles that my dad gave me & they always fill the dance floor! You probably know Melt Kingston who lives near me & tells me great stories about my dad. I bought the washboard kings back catalogue a few years back which came with a photo of my dad.

  38. April 30, 2017 at 23:16

    By the way Roger, I apologise for missing your message for so long. Not quite sure how I managed that!

  39. Diana Speller
    September 8, 2019 at 14:21

    Trying to find out about a great rock band called Joe Bloggs who performed at the Iron Bridge Tavern around the late 60s/early 70s. We became friends we them and we loved their music – Wishing Well, Come, Come, Come to the Sabbath. They also played at the Deuragon Arms in Hackney. Anyone know what happened to the band. I remember John the drummer was a bit of a comedian (who can forget his version of Ernie?) and there was a saxophonist, Alec? I’m writing a book and have included a short piece about me and my husband’s time following this band. Diana

  40. Graham Riches
    October 20, 2019 at 16:23

    I was just thinking about Henry Champion and the Levity Lancers and the times I used to visit the Waterman’s Arms. I lived in Hornchurch and I took my girlfriend (now wife of almost 50 years) there on one of our first dates. My friends and I went there regularly and one guy used to play along with the Faces on piano before they took off and he used to get up on stage and play Jerry Lee Lewis stuff just like Lewis himself, but he was told to stop because he was playing some notes with his foot. I also went there with my mates to see the band. Other weekends, we used to go to the Flamingo Club to see Georgie Fame, John Mayall, Long John Baldry, Eric Burdon et al.
    What I wanted to say, was that I went to the Watermans Arms on Thursday 19th November 1970 (thank goodness for iPhone calendars) after work in Wapping with friends for my stag night. There was a great atmosphere there and the music was great. I drank so much, fell out the door at one point, got thrown out of a flat in Sidcup, fell out the back of a car, fell over a garden wall and woke up in the office in Wapping (when I had a day’s holiday) with bruises on my face and hip.
    I only just made it to my wedding two days later. Such a shame all that has gone! Happy memories!

    • Roger Mitchell
      January 7, 2020 at 15:01

      Congratulations to you both on your many married years. Those great times have not really gone as I still keep falling over after many a year (perhaps that is why my marriage did not last so long). With fond memories of those days, Cheers, Roger Mitchell (I was Henry Champion at the Watermans Arms in those days) !!!

  41. Graham Riches
    January 7, 2020 at 15:48

    Thanks Roger. Great memories of our youth! We have a place in Spain as well as the UK, so if you are performing in the Alicante/Torrevieja area I will come and see you.

  42. George Sanders
    January 13, 2020 at 11:44

    I visited it once in the late 60s with wife and friends and saw Charles Gray there, a well known actor at the time. Had been in various films and tv for some years.

  43. Dave Baber
    March 14, 2020 at 09:50

    It’s coming back. April 2020!

  44. Pauline Green
    July 21, 2020 at 22:59

    Used to go to the Waterman’s on Friday nights between 1968/71, there was usually a Great group who were mostly brothers & sisters, and also a really camp comedian who always commented on anyone going to the toilet while he was on! Naughty but hilarious! Shame I can’t remember the names.

  1. August 3, 2013 at 13:13

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