Plumstead brewery Common Rioters plans ‘beer café’ at closed Blackheath Standard bank

Barclays Bank, Blackheath Standard
The bank closed its doors on 15 January

A Plumstead-based brewery is hoping to turn the former Barclays branch at the Royal Standard into a “beer café” – just weeks after the bank closed its doors for the final time.

Common Rioters has submitted a planning application to Greenwich Council to change the building’s use – the first stage in a journey it hopes will end with its own bar and place to brew its beers.

The three-year-old brewery, run by Stephen and Maryann O’Connor, takes its name from the Plumstead Common rioters, whose revolt in 1876 saved the open space from being destroyed by a developer.

They had originally hoped to take on a unit at the Jack’s Acre development on Rochester Way in Eltham, but when that fell through, Stephen told The Charlton Champion that he spotted the Blackheath bank building was being let.

“We’re into learning about historical and modern styles of brewing coupled with peoples’ history,” he said. “Not yet having a commercial brew kit or place to brew means that until now we’ve relied on friends in the industry to brew our beers with. Our beers have been available at a select few pubs in the area and at our Plumsteadshire stall, which pops up in various locations as well as online. Following the theme of our stall somewhat we intend to have guest brewery appearances at our pub alongside many other non-beer items for enjoyment.

“The opportunity to bring The Green Goddess to Blackheath in an iconic building was too good to miss.”

Common Rioters’ interest in the bank comes less than two months after it closed. Barclays announced it was shutting the branch – the last bank at the Royal Standard – in October, and it closed its doors on 15 January. Nearby, the former NatWest branch has not yet found a tenant nearly three years after the state-owned bank pulled out of the area.

The brewery is currently selling beers from other suppliers though its online shop, with free delivery in SE7 and other Greenwich borough addresses every Friday.

While all pubs are closed because of the lockdown, there have been hopeful signs for SE7 drinkers looking for a decent pint once the restrictions have passed, despite the loss of the White Swan a year ago.

Matchday favourite The Royal Oak on Charlton Lane is being refurbished under new management and is planning to serve food during the week, while the once-notorious White Horse on Woolwich Road has also been given a makeover.


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‘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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Developers get go-ahead to build houses on Pickwick pub garden

Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road
The Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road. Photo by Neil Clasper

Developers have been given the green light to concrete over a pub garden in Charlton and build six new houses, despite concerns from neighbours in overlooking properties.

Greenwich councillor’s approval came months after officers threw out a scheme to bulldoze the closed Pickwick pub on Woolwich Road.

The developer, Pure Let Greenwich, put forward plans to demolish the pub’s extension in place of six new homes, concreting over the pub’s garden in the process.

Neighbour Susan Archer said her house had not been considered by officers who had recommended approving the development, which would have a four-bed family property at its rear.

She said: “My conservatory would be directly looked into by the four bedroom property. The rear buildings will be able to see directly into my property. My privacy will be totally affected.”

The resident said there has also been confusion amongst residents as to what the application was, as a previous scheme for the pub itself was thrown out last year.

A model of the plans, with the original scheme to bulldoze the pub in the corner

Council officers rejected plans last year to bulldoze the three-storey pub after more than a dozen people objected to losing the building.

The neighbour said there could have been more people objecting if the process had been clearer.

Developers said they would plant trees to screen her property from overlooking, but were left red-faced when asked about why they had already cut a tree without permission.

Chair Sarah Merrill said: “In the plans it very clearly says the tree is to be retained but it has been felled. If that’s an old plan as you say what is it doing before us.

“My view is that the pub is empty, the community space at the back is falling down. It’s an eyesore – the land is vacant. When I first looked at the application I was happy you were retaining trees so then to find out you’ve felled the huge one is upsetting. That’s disingenuous.

“However it is not worth turning down housing on those grounds. I do share concerns from the resident and there is going to be a very firm condition for screening.”

The developers said having a profitable development would eventually lead to bringing the vacant pub back into use.

The approved scheme, passed unanimously by councillors at Woolwich Town Hall, featured conditions for extensive screening of the site.

LDRS logoTom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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