‘The angry past has moved out’: Charlton’s White Horse pub rides again

White Horse Charlton
The White Horse has cast off its old reputation

It’s a brave time to open a new pub, but the once-infamous White Horse on Woolwich Road has been reopened with a new look and a new menu. PAUL BREEN popped in for a pint.

Having taught briefly at the old Holborn College (now Windrush Primary School) over the road, I knew the reputation of The White Horse. Passing it a few weeks ago, I realised that something about it seemed very different from the past associations of the place. However, I didn’t enter because like with most people, the act of going out is now a rarity.

But after seeing the lounge empty one early evening, with sensible precautions in place for social distancing, I went in and ordered a pint, where I experienced something new, positive and unexpected.

Under the radar, Charlton seems to have acquired a decent new pub to go along with the others that we already have. The angry past has moved out and there’s a new rider on the saddle of The White Horse. Though I never ventured into the previous shaven-headed incarnation, everything’s most definitely changed beyond recognition, from décor to drinks. I could feel echoes of The White Swan’s early days in a lot of what I saw, from the friendliness of staff to the general ambience of the place.

Speaking to the owner, I get a sense that he’s got a vision for the place and for being a part of the Charlton community. That seems timely when the football club has just acquired a new owner too; Thomas Sandgaard. There’s something about new ownership that fills people’s hearts and minds with a sense of hope, a sense of better times on the road ahead. That’s as true of a local pub as it is of a football club. Something in the human spirit feeds so strongly off fragments of an imagined future. Here, the promise of Sunday roasts (including a veggie option) brought back those lost moments of in-law lunches as a group at the same table.

Possibly even better than that (sorry in-laws) was the promise of forthcoming craft lagers and theme nights that used to be such a feature of The White Swan from dodgy DJs to quizzes and folk sessions. I wanted to scream out “my God, there is a future!” but present regulations dictate that shouting ecstatically is very definitely not allowed in public. I do though want to shout about this place because in my head I’m already there on that sunny May day when Thomas Sandgaard shocks us all by reaching this stage of his title-winning pub crawl around Charlton.

Though I only got a snapshot of one brief evening here, this discovery gives me a sense of hope, a light in the darkness of this lingering winter. Going to our other locals, of course, does the same I should add but there’s something beautiful, something restorative in finding newness right now. There’s a kindling of hope that the good old days can come back to us, that they’re not just moments lost in time in these days of living in fear.

The White Horse is somewhere I’m hoping to visit on one of those rainy Saturdays, in a time when we’ll joke darkly of days when we could cough suddenly and clear the bar to get a round.

There is hope out there and there is healing in the sight of old places staying open and new ones springing to life, even in this darkest of winters. We do need to support them though so that they’ll be there for us on rainy evenings, match days, film festival nights and the like. Nobody knows what the future holds or even how this virus is going to play out, but we’ve got to keep believing and to keep looking ahead. Thanks to the White Horse and Hachi Sushi Grill for their tastes of the past and the future. Thinking about it almost brings tears to my eyes, though it could just be the wasabi from last night in the Japanese café!

Read Paul’s review of Hachi Sushi Grill.


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Developer plans Domino’s Pizza and flats for Charlton’s derelict Victoria pub

How developers say the Victoria would look. Not sure what that car is doing, mind

A Gillingham-based developer wants to convert the long-derelict Victoria pub on Woolwich Road into a Domino’s Pizza outlet and four flats, according to documents released by Greenwich Council this week.

Residents can have their say between now and 28 August on the proposals, which would retain the locally-listed building – notorious for its sloping floor but unused for over 20 years and damaged by fires, most recently in May – and build above and behind it to create a two-storey apartment block.

What’s there now: After May 2019’s fire

A previous application, in 2016, to demolish the building for flats was refused, while this application follows a withdrawn plan to build two large student flats behind the pub, which the council objected to on the grounds that student accommodation did not fit into the Charlton Riverside redevelopment programme.

Of converting the pub to a Domino’s pizza outlet, the developer says: “The ‘A5’ use would be a Domino’s pizza outlet. They deliver. Even in a Town Centre context 95% of orders are delivered. In a location such as this it would be a lot higher. The layout allows for moped or scooter parking. Staff would be encouraged to use the scooters or cycles to access work from home.”

Side view. Space for a mural on the blank wall, perhaps?

Some things that leap out at us.

  • Firstly, there have been six months of to-ing and fro-ing with council planners before this has emerged, so presumably they are broadly happy with it.
  • Secondly, that blank wall! Surely we can get a mural out of this. Get your thinking caps on, readers.
  • Thirdly, it doesn’t appear anyone has properly surveyed the inside of the pub, even though it is easy to get into – it is a favourite of our pal Paul Talling of Derelict London. Hopefully this isn’t a precursor of “oh no, it’s actually in a terrible state and we’ll have to knock it down anyway!”
Victoria pub interior
Inside the Victoria after the May 2019 fire. Sensitive readers: don’t look left

We took some photos of the pub last summer, a some months before the most recent fire.

The full set of planning documents is on the Greenwich Council planning website (or enter reference 19/734/F here), where you can also leave comments about the proposal.

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Be quick, save The Pickwick: Campaign launched to save Charlton pub


Campaign against the demolition of the Pickwick PUb on Woolwich Road, Charlton

Following the news of a planning application to demolish the Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road in Charlton and replace it with a new pub, 14 flats, and six houses, campaigners are asking residents to raise objections to the developer’s plans.

Citing the “historical, architectural and environmental” significance of the pub, the Save the Pickwick campaign is calling on the developer to retain and reopen the pub in consultation with local residents, rather than demolish it and replace it with a ‘bland pub’.

The deadline for comments on the Pickwick planning application is Monday 24 September. To see the full application and make comments, visit planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk and enter reference 18/2976/O. Comments on the application can also be sent to Peninsula ward councillors.

To get involved or contact the campaign, email savethepickwick [at] gmail.com.

The White Horse Pub Woolwich Road Charlton
The White Horse pub on Woolwich Road, Charlton

Plans to demolish another historic Charlton pub, The White Horse , were refused on appeal by a planning inspector in 2015. Now a developer is trying to build an extension and convert its hotel accommodation into bedsits. To comment on this, visit planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk and enter reference 18/2735/F – the deadline for that is Wednesday 26 September. Comments can also be sent to Woolwich Riverside councillors.

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