Last month’s issue gave us all a sad insight into the loss of pubs in the rural and village areas of Hoo Peninsula in the recent past. Unfortunately that was only part of the story. This month we take a look at those loved locals that have shut their doors within the urban confines of the area. To begin, we find ourselves at the bottom of Darnley Road in Strood. Go under the railway bridge and you are immediately faced by site of one such establishment, the Britannia, lovingly referred to as the Corner Pin. A restaurant was supposed to occupy this corner, but as yet not much has been done. Continuing along the Cuxton Road about 500 yards and on the right is The Horseshoe public house. Next to the sign is a ‘for sale’ notice. Another local boozer about to hit the buffers? Take a rain check on that as there has been a transfer of ownership, and, perhaps, the old place may yet survive to serve another pint. Now down to the crossroads at London Road. Here there were 3 pubs once; The Crispin & Crispianus still serves a pint in its listed building with ties to Charles Dickens. On the site of the BP garage opposite stood The Old Gun Inn that ceased trading 30 years ago. More recently has seen the closure of the third pub, The Bulls Head. Moving across into Gun Lane past the site where Strood railway station once stood, and at the junction with North Street and Frinsbury Road we pass the now defunct Tug and Shovel. All that’s left is an empty shell with an interesting name. North Street itself had two going concerns until recently. Of the two, the Angel has not stopped serving entirely, but the hours of opening are never obvious. Hopefully The Angel will keep some sort of presence for when calmer economic seas prevail. Unfortunately, this is not the case for The Jolly Gardiners next door. This beautiful building is now boarded-up, with no sign of a comeback. Stand in the car park opposite and gaze at the old place to realise just what a wonderful house Strood may soon lose, even though it is listed. History records that when this old hostelry applied to be a horse staging inn way back, the local authority insisted on a complete overhaul and enlargement of the stables at the back. If you dare to sneak a look in the old car park behind the gardeners, you will still see evidence of this. Just what will happen to this old place now, as a listed site, is hard to imagine.
Back to Frinsbury Road and almost immediately on your left by Cliffe Road stands The Red Lion, no longer a public house; the building awaits conversion to flats. There are two drinking establishments in Station Road, both owing their names to the rail and river connection that once dominated the area, The South Eastern (railway co.) and The Steam Packet. Unknown to many now, on the corner with Strood High Street and Station Road, stood another licensed premises, The Chatham Railway. A fast food restaurant now inhabits the spot.
And so back to Frinsbury Road, that graveyard for pubs, and The Cobham, which is now a Chinese restaurant with good repute. The Cobham served its last drink almost ten years ago. Another local that now serves food is The Marlborough, just a few hundred yards further on. This grand building now serves a good curry. Take a left here, up Bill Street and the latest victim to fall foul of the current pub ‘plague’ is The Ship. There is construction work going on inside; another eating place? In a straight line from the bottom of Darnley Road to The Marlborough seven public houses have ceased to trade in the last few years. Take a further three ‘locals’ in the immediate vicinity, that means Strood has lost ten drinking places in recent years. For such a small town, this must be a record. Still, do not get too disheartened. The landlord of the lovely Tudor Rose public house in beautiful Upnor insists that there once fourteen (14!) aces in that village alone, where alcoholic beverages could be purchased.