A change is in the air. The mood in East Ham is one of flux. Just off High Street South, the White Horse pub has been brought crashing down; the plot will be re-developed. I am no great drum-banger for the pub – its St George’s flags draped over all the windows gave the interior a dark, gloomy mien, and the pub itself had a certain reputation. It was of its time. But in its place will rise some flats (of course) out of keeping with the Victorian redbrick surrounding it.
The flats will be a smaller sibling to the massive Upton Gardens development that has been so lustily plunged into by Barratt and Gallimard. Money talks: and it is singing loudly in E13, the pace of the works carried out at the breakneck pace that is only undertaken when there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This pot of gold is ring-fenced.
The car park on High Street North, admittedly long otiose, will not be a health centre, or a nursery, or a community centre. It will be flats. (Like the now-demolished Hartley Centre). They will have the newly Antic-sanctified Denmark Arms to frequent: their feted arrival promises much for the Denmark, a place where your writer had his first experiences of pub going with the J Sainsbury’s Saturday shift….. a long time ago.
Wither now the Earl of Essex and those stranded Manor Park craft beer lovers?
Sometimes, against this turning tide of Progress, echoes of the past emerge, and remind us of what has been. For a while, there was a ghost sign on a shop front on Barking Road. The unit next to the Costcutter shut down and the gaudy plastic backlit sign was taken down, exposing a neatly painted old sign. It read ‘Copeland Bros’ in serif font. Does anyone have any idea what the shop might have been?
The Barking Medical Centre, just up the road, near the venerable Century Wines, has also shut down and the old sign is exposed. It’s a painted black sign on a peeling white-paint background, and very elegant.
Part of me wishes Copeland Bros had become a laid back bistro, a community drop-in where you could get a cheap beer, a crusty cob sandwich, maybe see a few regular faces. But the continued scarcity of punters in the Boleyn speaks of an uncertain future unless you’re backed by venture capital. And of course, the Man, down the line, must have his pound of flesh…
And so we wait. A change remains heavy in the air, like the metallic tang of heavy metals in the Tube air [especially after a hot day of movement and friction]. I wonder where it will lead….