The Boleyn Tavern in Upton Park, one of the East End’s famous landmark pubs, is to re-open on June 24th after an 18 month closure and a spectacular £1.5 million restoration.
Independent pub collection Remarkable Pubs Ltd have taken the dilapidated pub, once the local for generations of West Ham United football fans and transformed it into the Victorian masterpiece of its former years.
The restoration project took a year and was completed on time. The pub is now of a standard which would have wowed the locals when it first opened in 1899.
Said Remarkable Pubs chairman and founder Robert Thomas “The overriding drive present in all our restoration projects is to reverse the philistinism displayed in so many areas of contemporary English pub design and replace it with something better. We do the utmost.”
The original seven bars are back, some large, some small, replacing the aircraft hangar environment created during previous ownerships. New hand crafted wooden screens have been created, complete with acid-etched and Brilliant* cut glass, replicating one of the original wood and glass panels in the old saloon bar.
Gone is the old red linoleum flooring and in its place are sanded boards and beautiful marble floors of Carrara stone, from Italian quarries, famous in Roman times. The bespoke furniture, both new and restored, is beautifully authentic. Traditional craftsmen have restored and replaced glass, joinery and tiles throughout to beautiful and stunning effect.
One of the many beautiful and original features is the massive coloured glass skylight that spans what once would have been a billiards room, but is now an open kitchen, servery and dining area.
This area also has intimate curtain-contained booths with hand made leather seating.
The project has been overseen by Royal Academy MA Jake Miller, an artist and gallery owner who has been closely involved in the remodelling of many of Remarkable Pubs’ restoration projects.
But the new Boleyn Tavern is not just about architecture and heritage. It aims to offer hospitality which is second to none. Hand-pumped real ales include Fullers, Shepherd Neame, the local Hackney brewery Five Points, and Tottenham craft Brewery, Beavertown, plus other alternating guest beers, IPAs and porters. Lager drinkers will like Litovel lager from the Czech republic, only available in Remarkable Pubs. There will be a terrific range of quality wines and spirits.
The Boleyn will also have the best jukebox in London and the pub will run a variety traditional pub events, quizzes etc, according to local tastes and demand.
The food will be pub classics and main courses from a delicious British menu, all served by a friendly team led by manager Sean Atkinson and chef Stephen Embleton, two old friends and ex-colleagues who are delighted to be working together again after 10 years.
Sean and Stephen met in Bournemouth where Sean was managing a small, but popular and busy bar. Stephen started as a part time chef to help subsidise his final year of studying Hospitality Management. After his degree, Stephen decided to stay in Bournemouth, where the two of them continued to work together, eventually helping the business grow into a multi-site company.
Stephen moved to Brighton to continue honing his culinary skills in pubs and restaurants before eventually moving back to his native London, whilst Sean went on to run some of the largest venues in Dorset.
Sean managed another Remarkable Pub, the Virgin Queen, in Hackney.
About the pub and the area
The Boleyn occupies a prominent site at the corner of Green Street and Barking Road in East Ham, London E6. West Ham United Football Club’s stadium, the Boleyn Ground, which closed in 2016, was a close neighbour and the pub was the centre of the universe on match days; a large selection of old West Ham photographs provides a nostalgic touch in the pub.
The pub was built on the site of a previous establishment at the height of the pub building boom in 1899. It was then owned by The Cannon Brewery of Clerkenwell, bought by Taylor Walker in 1930 and subsequently becoming part of Allied Breweries. The Boleyn was designed by prominent pub architects Shoebridge and Rising, described in Mark Girouard’s book “Victorian Pubs” as “One of the liveliest firms of pub architects”.
The pub and the local area declined when West Ham departed to the olympic stadium at Stratford. The opening of the Boleyn will breathe some new life into the neighbourhood, helped by an influx of new people into the flats on the old football ground and new housing developments in the pipeline locally.
The restoration cost £1.5 million, including the upper parts
£35,000 spent on etched glass
£30,000 spent on screens and woodwork
£35,000 spent on bespoke furniture
£40,000 was rumoured to be the pubs takings on match days, now long gone.
About remarkable pubs and the philosophy which drives The Boleyn Tavern
Remarkable Pubs is a collection of 16 independently run, traditional pubs based in London. Each pub has been thoughtfully restored or reinvented with inspiration often taken from the Victorian era, with a long time understanding that pubs are places to socialise, hubs for the local community and ultimately a refuge for relaxation, pleasure, company and enjoyment.
All but one of the 16 pubs in the group pubs serves great food made on the premises and there is always a large and interesting array of cellar cooled, hand pumped beers and real ales, fine wines and spirits to choose from.
In 1985 much of the local pub scene in Inner London was fairly lacklustre. Grubby and often boarded-up property lined the streets, yet to be swept up in the new wave of regeneration, the Georgian or Victorian elegance of these grand establishments had faded.
The Prince George in Hackney was one such pub, standing statuesquely on the corner of Wilton Way.
As Remarkable Pubs founders Robert and Jean Thomas cycled past it, they admired its classical pillared porch and architectural charm – but didn’t much fancy a drink inside.
Upon discovering the pub was for sale, having never worked in or run pubs before, the young couple decided to take a chance on the old building and carefully resuscitate it. Sympathetic to the era it was built in, and appealing to those who happened upon it, The Prince George was stripped back and turned into the kind of pub they had wished for all along.
Carpets were pulled up and floorboards sanded, reclaimed church pews were placed, the real fireplaces exposed and the original mahogany bar brought back to life. A 7″ vinyl jukebox was acquired and several Real Ale pumps were installed as part of their mission to serve great beer to the local community.
The pub quickly became a much loved local gem and a place full of animated conversation, genuine charm and fun. Not much has changed from then to this day.
16 (and counting) pubs later and Robert and Jean’s tentative venture into the world of drinking venues has resulted in a very remarkable and much loved set of pubs.
Remarkable Pubs in London
The Approach Tavern, Bethnal Green E12
The Barley Mow, Shoreditch EC2
The Boleyn Tavern, East Ham, E6
The George & Dragon, Acton W5
The Holly Tree, Forest Gate E7 – The only pub in London with a narrow gauge railway in its garden!
The Lord Tredegar, Bow, E3
The Prince George, Dalston, E8
The Reliance, Shoreditch EC1
The Royal Inn on the Park, Hackney, E9
The Rosemary Branch, Islington N1
The Salisbury Hotel, Harringay N4
The Shaftesbury Tavern, Archway, N19
The Shakespeare, Stoke Newington N16
The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms Holloway N7
The Telegraph at the Earl of Derby, New Cross, SE14
The Virgin Queen, Bethnal Green,E2
[*”Brilliant” is a glass cutting technique, now almost extinct.]