Lost pub that closed after 269 years when landlord was given 3 months’ notice

Far too many London pubs are closing their doors these days - often forced to because of spiralling costs and brewery-imposed restrictions. But when they pull the bolts across for the last time, it's not just the business that goes, it's part of the beating heart of the community. Such was the case with Walthamstow local, The Cock Tavern.

In 2016 Waltham Forest[1] Council approved plans for the boozer to be converted into shops. Former landlord Michael Adams was absolutely fuming as he'd had an application to convert the upstairs to flats declined in 2002 because he was told the pub couldn't be altered as it was in a conservation area. Mr Adams - who had intended to keep the pub open - angrily accused the local authority of hypocrisy and double standards but in the end there was nothing he could do.

The pub is now consigned to the past. It's even sadder because there has been a coach house, tavern or pub[2] operating on the site continuously since 1747. Stephen Price, who was landlord of the pub for the last four-and-a-half years, told The Guardian series[3] he was given three months' notice by the owners in 2016 telling him the pub would be closing.

READ MORE: Fond memories of the London pub where a man was chopped up with a chainsaw[4]

Former landlord Michael Adams after he was told he couldn't convert the upstairs to flatsFormer landlord Michael Adams after he was told he couldn't convert the upstairs to flats

The history of the place is evident in a Morning Advertiser article of July 1872 which describes The Cock Tavern, Walthamstow[5] as "within a two-minutes walk of the St James's Street Railway station, on the Great Eastern line, and seven miles from the General Post Office". It's described as: "A well-frequented and old-established roadside inn and tavern, with stabling and a bowling-green. The premises are well arranged for business well domestic comfort, and under new management the present lucrative trade can lie considerably increased."

But all was not always well at the inn. In an article which got in just about every local newspaper of the day, The Whitby Gazette of all newspapers reported on November 16 1888 that: "A barman at the Cock Tavern, Walthamstow shot the cook whilst she was sitting down to dinner, on Sunday afternoon. The woman, who was about 50, had only been engaged at the premises a few days.

The bullet passed through her temple, inflicting a very severe wound. The man was arrested." It's such a low-key article it's hard to believe what it describes - a barman just took a gun and aimed a shot at the cook's head.

Either her food was terrible or he just really didn't like her! Another tragedy was heard about at the pub on July 23, 1892. This time a coroner opened an inquest there after the bodies of Frederick Arthur Harkner, described as a "carman" and aged 28, and Adelaide Louisa, his 18-year-old wife, were found nearby.

Harkner had committed suicide after murdering his wife by shooting her with a revolver. His brother told the inquest Harkner had complained about the life he was leading and said that he could not stand it any longer. Apparently his wife would persist in "going on the stage" against his will and then would nag him about it if he refused to let her.

There's a lesson for all married couples there somewhere.

The pub had a number of sports teamsThe pub had a number of sports teams and was well supported by the community

But old photos on the "Walthamstow in Pictures" Facebook page clearly show how much the pub meant to the community. There are large groups of men and women pictured outside the boozer and images appearing to show regulars about to depart on coach trips. Former punters often share memories of the pool, football and darts teams at the pub and it clearly was a proper hub of the community.

Locals certainly still have fond memories of the place. Kim Barron for example posted on the Walthamstow in Pictures page: "Played darts for the Cock Tavern when I was 14, my dad and uncles started taking me there. I had to sit in the corner only moving when it was my turn on the board.

Those were the days!"

Ladies outside the pub looking like they're just about to go on a coach tripLadies outside the pub looking like they're just about to go on a coach trip

Steve Vargerson said: "I remember the two crippled World War One veterans who used to have an accordion and used to stand outside the Cock and collect money in a tin box. One was blinded by mustard gas." Beryl Goode meanwhile wrote: "I spent many good times here in 1962/3 with my to-be husband.

Remember my brother dancing a wicked twist in here with the landlords daughter." Finally, Joe Fernando said: "I used to drink there regularly in the 80s when I worked at Dixons opposite. Great pub back then." So goodbye The Cock Tavern.

It seems you will be missed and not forgotten. Sign up to MyLondon's London Stories newsletter to receive your weekly dose of history HERE[6] READ MORE:

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A general view from the river of the "Prospect of Whitby" pub in east London, Britain 24 March 2022.
pFacundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon


  1. ^ Waltham Forest (www.mylondon.news)
  2. ^ pub (www.mylondon.news)
  3. ^ The Guardian series (www.guardian-series.co.uk)
  4. ^ Fond memories of the London pub where a man was chopped up with a chainsaw (www.mylondon.news)
  5. ^ Walthamstow (www.mylondon.news)
  6. ^ HERE (24552465)