Thursday, 20 October 2016

The gas mask and the pub sign without a pub ............ on Queens Road with one more half forgotten adventure

Me roundabout the time of the gas mask adventure
Now I know that we found the gas mask in a row of derelict houses on Queens Road up past the station.

I always thought that the block had been the victim of the Blitz, but it is more likely they were just awaiting demolition having done seventy or so years and were too tired to be saved.

But it will be 55 or so years since Jimmy, me and John Cox went exploring in the houses.

I remember they were still pretty much intact and somehow we got inside, wandered around and came across a pristine gas mask, still in its box.

It had that shinny look as if it had just come off the production line, with not a mark or scratch.

The filter I remember was white and there was a green painted strip around the black nozzle and I have no idea what happened to it.

It will have been the prize of the day but who took possession of it or what they did with it is lost but that was how adventures went back in the 1950s.

The London & Brighton Railway Hotel, 2008
Most never started out as adventures, just an aimless walk on a pretty ordinary day when you hoped it wouldn’t rain.

But sometimes the day was transformed and the memory of what you did stayed at the back of your mind to be brought out just occasionally.

So as you do I went looking for the site of that adventure.

It will have been somewhere along Queens Road just past the station but the search proved in vain.

On the corner of Asylum and Queens Road and the sign with no pub
Of course what replaced our row in 1960 may have been torn down but the walk was not entirely a waste of time because once again I was presented with that odd sight of a pub sign without a pub.

There on the corner with Asylum Road is a smart block of flats which went up last year and standing beside it was the pub sign for the old London and Brighton Hotel.

I don’t remember the pub and have fallen back on that excellent site London Pubology for this picture taken in 2008.*

The London and Brighton Railway Hotel opened in 1867 the same years as the railway station, and served its last pint in 2009 before being demolished in 2013.*

Nor is it the only local to be remembered by its pub sign.  Just over a month ago I came across the Railway Tavern on Gibbon Road and the Carlton on Culmore Road both now no longer offering up a night of beer and cheer but commemorated by their old signs.

It’s not something I have come across before but I like the idea and just wonder how many other old drinking haunts have their ghost sign.

It could even become a new set of adventures replicating those of 55 years ago and ably assisted by many of my new friends from Peckham and New Cross.

Leaving me only to reflect on the station opposite the old London & Brighton.  It is a place I haven’t used for half a century and yet I can vividly remember the long steps up to the wooden platforms some of which had gaps allowing you stare down.

All of which is a story for another adventure.

Pictures; in the spring of 1960, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, the London and Brighton Hotel, 2008 courtesy of London Pubology, the corner of Asylum and Queens Road, August 20015 courtesy of Adam Burgess and the Railway Tavern  with sign circa 1960 from the collection of Adrian Parfitt

*London Pubology,

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