Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Welcome Inn ................... the early days

Now some stories just have a habit of not wanting to go away.

They stay hanging around challenging you to go off and discover something new to add to what has already been said.

And so it is with the Welcome Inn which every time I feature the pub strikes a chord with many people usually about my age.

In particular it is tales of Sunday nights which continue to bubble up enriched by the memories of meeting future husbands or lasting friends.

And I should know because while I was just that bit too young to drink I would listen to the happy crowds coming back down Well Hall Road past our house in the mid 60s a little after closing time.

More recently I began looking for the history of the place, and while a few people were able to offer up names of past landlords the very early history of the pub proved illusory.

And then my old friend, fellow researcher and local historian Tricia Leslie told me about The Woolwich Story by E.F. E. Jefferson.

It is as she promised me a wonderful account of the Borough from the earliest of times up to its merger with Greenwich.

I have already used the book and know I shall go on plundering it for some time to come.

So in the chapter on the 1920s I came across this “On the brow of the hill stood a large wooden building used as a workmen’s club but demolished about 1927 when the Welcome Inn was built.  

This modern hostelry set new standards in both furnishing and service.  Seated in comfort, one had to preserve patience until the waiter came to take the order, for customers were not permitted to get their own drinks at the bar. 

But this arrangement proved too leisurely, annoyed those who only had time for a quick one and tended generally toward the restraint of trade. A wise host discontinued the practice.”

Now I have no idea when that service was discontinued but I well remember the practice was still in use in some of the big Manchester pubs in the late 1960s, with the waiters in white jackets and in some rooms a bell push to summon assistance.

Sadly there are few photographs of the waiters or indeed the interiors and it would be nice if any could be shared of the Welcome in its heyday.

So that is it.  I now know when the pub was open which was clearly aimed at the Progress Estate and the new build going up behind the pub and the appeal is out for pictures.

We shall see what we get.

But in the meantime I shall go looking at the electoral registers which will give us the names of the landlords or landladies from when it opened through to the 1960s.

Location, Eltham

Picture; the site of the Welcome courtesy of Jean and the cover of The Woolwich Story

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