Wooden spoon for Wetherspoons as Forest Gate pub closes

Since the year 2000 Newham has seen an astonishing third of its pubs lock their doors for good – and the trend continues.

By Bobby Wazzo

Three men in a pub garden
Vic and Balou Patel with Bob Rush

Newham’s dismal record on pub closures has taken another hit with the demise of Forest Gate’s Hudson Bay on Upton Lane. Since the year 2000 Newham has seen an astonishing third of its pubs lock their doors for good – and the trend continues.

The area suffered closures of the Live and Let Live, Manby Arms, Eagle and Child, Spotted Dog, White Hart, Duke of Edinburgh, Green Man, Princess Alice, Duke of Fife, Albion Hotel….all within walking distance of Upton Lane.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says: “The traditional London pub has been at the heart of London’s communities for hundreds of years, but sadly they continue to face a long-term decline in numbers.

“I have made safeguarding and growing London’s night-time economy a priority and am doing all I can to protect the capital’s pubs. By creating the most pro-pub planning strategy the capital has ever seen I’ve shown what can be done, and I want to see the government and local authorities match my ambition and help protect these key community hubs for generations to come.”

In 2014 Newham councillors Jo Corbett and Unmesh Desai stood outside the boarded up Earl of Wakefield calling for greater powers to protect pubs. Conservative GLA leader Andrew Boff waded in demanding planning restraints for two years after any pub closure in order to monitor the effects locally.

Five years earlier in 2009, the local Residents group, the Monega Association, wrote to Newham Council over the loss of the Green Man and the Burnell Arms to Newham Council.

With J.D. Wetherspoons Miller’s Well in the process of being sold Bob Rush, CAMRA member and Chair of the Monega Association, said he was ‘very disappointed’ with these decisions of Tim Martin of Wetherspoon. About the Hudson Bay he blamed the company for allowing a ‘management’ issue to fester on for years, which had definitely affected sales.

Nonetheless, there were smiles and laughs as well as tears during the Hudson’s last day, bathed as it was in brilliant sunshine.

Customer Vic Patel was far from happy at the closure of the local he had supported for many years, and as he looked around he was sad that people would be forced now to go to more expensive pubs selling gassy so called ‘craft’ beer that a whole community was being broken up without anyone trying to stop it. His friend Balou said he would miss meeting old friends and gaining new ones.

Bob Rush was unforgiving: “Pubs can be the beating heart of a community. The loss of the Hudson, with its real coal fire and beautiful garden, was a jewel in the area. It had well kept real ale and brilliant managers such as Stephane.
“The closure has badly affected social cohesion. People of all nationalities and backgrounds met including special needs groups who came to eat once a week at the Hudson. Getting out and socialising over a pint has been well recognised as a positive thing in addressing mental health issues and feelings of isolation”.

Bob continued: “Now is the time to put fancy words into action. Will London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Newham Mayor Fiaz get together to ensure any new planning permission for development includes a requirement for a new pub with garden of identical sizes? Why should a property developer make millions at the expense of community interests, the much lauded night time economy and all the other empty aspirations politicians love talking about? Let’s see if anyone is really bothered about it”.