Monday, 30 July 2007

The Sir John Franklin, Commercial Road, Poplar, E14

Description: Modern squat, 2 storey at highest, collection of brick and grimy glass boxes – 60s architecture. Located at the traffic intersection of the A13 Commercial Road (6 lanes) and the underpass into the southbound Blackwall tunnel (another 6 lanes, plus two slip lanes). Paved area in front allows waiting motorists to appreciate the pub, and drinkers to peer through the grubby nets at the humming traffic.
Front door to lounge on Commercial Road – boarded up, snapped off name sign above. Side door to bar on Blackwall slip road. Rear door from small car park with shattered glass held together by black gaffer tape. Behind the pub looms the concrete brutalist Balfron Tower.
The bar has a small stage in the top corner with a flimsy wooden balustrade. This has been decorated with 50 today balloons. Opposite corner of bar is a shrine to West Ham United with some awful caricatures of past players in yellowing frames. Rumble of traffic seeps thru the heavy curtains. It is the hottest day ever recorded – the curtains remain closed.

Action: Three sickly looking short pot-bellied men, one with his shirt off, wrestling to erect a cheap green gazebo in the car park in anticipation of the later 50th birthday party to be held in the gloomy bar. Asked if bar was open, told yes. ‘So we can get a drink?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Preparing for a function?’, no answer. The pub isn’t legally open yet. Went inside. Bar curtains heavily closed. All three men have half drunk pints already on the go. One is drinking from a porcelain Bierkruger and watching motionless a TV showing some romantic black and white film. A greasy little Yorkshire terrier circles the room occasionally coming up to us inviting a pat.


Anonymous said...

I write this with a tear in my eye and bitter regret in my heart. I will never forgive myself for delaying my visit to Sir John. So enamoured was I with it's rough-and-ready charm that I even had it as my desktop backround... I say "had" as I have now replaced it with 3 letters: "RIP".

Yes, I was informed this unhappy day by a reliable source that Sir John has been boarded up and that there is no sign of life. Photographic evidence will be forthcoming but I don't think I can bring myself to look.

I can only hope that the resulting apartment block catches fire (with nobody harmed) within months of opening as the glorious spirit of Sir John Franklin rises like a phoenix from its miserable ashes...

Mr. Jones said...

I have news ...

I checked this glorious hellhole out during the week: still very much boarded-up, except for the top floor windows many of which were open and signs that it was being inhabited by squatters.

But here's the interesting bit - a Foxtons Estate Agents sign is mounted to the roof, displaying 'Sold' ... could the phoenix be preparing to rise?

Just a footnote for anyone wishing to visit - this establishment is actually located beyond the limits of Commercial Road, and is actually located more on the East India Dock Road. Get off the DLR at Blackwall and walk straight up the road (Robin Hood Lane, I think it was called..).

Arise, Sir John!

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Mr. Jones said...

Now demolished - with black hoarding around the mess, indicating luxury apartments ready to be built.

Quite how an apartment overlooking the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel could ever be described as 'luxurious', is beyond me.

Round the back, the concrete posts on the pavement are the sole surviving remnant of the building.

The hoarding then ends revealing the levelled patch of land on which Sir John once proudly stood.

RIP, Sir John.