Was this the last pub in Bromley by Bow?

Site of the Blue Anchor

Photo above – vanished without trace – The Blue Anchor.

Philip Mernick, Chairman of East London History Society, kindly sent us the article below. It also appears in their Summer 2019 Newsletter. You can download their newsletters in pdf form at the bottom of this page on the ELHS website.


The Blue Anchor, 2004. Photo Philip Mernick

The Blue Anchor in Bromley High Street is no more. In April it was boarded up with signs seeking a new manager: now it is just a hole in the ground. I had never been inside it but its apparent antiquity was confirmed by the excellent Pubs History.com web site showing licensees from as early as 1826. I thought of the other closed Bromley pubs I could still visualise and put them into the list below: in
the order they came to mind.

Priory Tavern, Imperial Tavern
Rose & Crown, Black Swan
Bombay Grab, Widow’s Son
Moulders Arms, Tenterden Arms
Queen Victoria, Rising Sun
Duke of Wellington, Seven Stars

Bromley Parish is a strange shape so I may have missed a few. A moment’s retrospection reminds me that The Bow Bells has survived its recent flooding and the Beehive remains off the beaten track, in Empson Street but it doesn’t comfort me much.

Philip Mernick

A follow up to Philip’s article from Alan Tucker:

The last time I took my camera along Bromley High Street The Blue Anchor had a to let sign hanging from it. Yesterday, thanks to Philip’s prompting, I went to see what had happened to it.

The site of The Blue Anchor public house. Affordable housing is being built here.

My top photo here shows the site of The Blue Anchor. A sign above the hoarding says it’s being developed for Poplar Harca. I found a number of planning applications for the site on the Tower Hamlets Council website. The first was granted on 8th Feb 2019 (PA/17/03015/A1). The proposal says: “Demolition of existing Jolles House and vacant Blue Anchor public house and Affordable housing led redevelopment comprising two linked 6 storey residential buildings comprising x64 affordable units and x6 private units; with associated landscaping and play provision enhancements.”

The former Seven Stars at the eastern end of Bromley High Street, London E3
The former Rose and Crown at the western end of Bromley High Street

Then I went for a walkabout in search of functioning pubs in Bromley by Bow. I was surprised to find four! At the end of his article Philip mentions The Bow Bells, opposite the old Poplar Town Hall, and the Beehive. It’s difficult keeping track of what’s happening in The East End, changes happen so quickly.

The Bow Bells, Bow Road.
The Beehive, Empson Street

Back in January I reported that The Widow’s Son (The Bun House) was fully functioning again with new kitchens. The pubs lease ran out just before Easter in 2016 and it was closed for a year. It had been sold by Punch Taverns in March 2012 to Dalco Developments. In 2017 new owners took it over and have done a great job with the refurbishment. See the photos and menu on their website. I seem to remember that builders threw out the old historic buns. If you know any more about this please comment below.

The Widow’s Son, a survivor.
Since it’s difficult to get a good exterior shot of the Widow’s son at the moment – this is one of their photos of the interior.

The big surprise to me was the Galvanisers Union – a new pub which opened in 2014 on the site of the Duke of Wellington at 2 Devas St, E3 3LL. It’s just south of Bromley by Bow tube station.

The Galvanisers Union, 2 Devas Street. A new pub which opened in 2014 on the site of the Duke of Wellington.
Entrance to the Wellington Lounge at the Galvanisers Union

The Londonist did reviews of two of these pubs which were recommended by their readers.

Philip Mernick deserves a big thank you for all his research into local history, and for getting the discussion going here.


  1. I can remember sitting on the pavement outside the Widow’s Son as a child of 7 years old. (1946 ). whilst my parents had a drink on a Saturday night. It had two bars, a public, a saloon, and an off-license, from which I would buy a penny large biscuit to eat while I waited. Does anyone else have similar memories of what is often described as “The good old days”? I was not the only kid sitting on the pavement.

  2. When I lived in Bow I’m sure the Bow Bells pub by St. Mary’s Church traded under a different name. Can anyone assist what it was and settle a fa,ily argument.

  3. Sad to see The Blue Anchor gone. My greatgrandmother |Mrs Clarke used to run it and my grandmother was brought up there. I live in Norfolk and I thought one day I’d go and see it – too late!

  4. It’s a shame to see what happen to the pub ,yesterday I went to Bromley high Street and I cry in shock because I did not see the pub. In 2004 August I had my wedding reception in the blue anchor.

  5. Philip Mernick has been delivering east london history for a long time, has helped me build the pub history site, and his elhs site is also rather excellent.
    Thanks for the pub history link, too.

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