Tales of drunken antics at Harold Hill pub facing closure
PUBLISHED: 15:48 06 March 2015 | UPDATED: 10:37 09 March 2015
A hazy two-day boozing session, drunken gambling fights and 17 managers in three years – a Harold Hill pub facing closure has had it all.
So when news poured through of plans to demolish The Pompadour pub in Edenhall Road, its folklore came to the fore.
The pub opened in 1959 and was named by a competition winner after the 56th Essex Regiment of Foot – who earned the nickname the pompadours because their uniform facing was purple, the favourite colour 17th century French figure Madame de Pompadour.
One of nine drinking holes on the estate, the beer flowed fastest during the 1970s – when it was also dubbed the “hardest pub to run” in the area – a claim supported by its 17 managers in three years.
Historian Don Tait remembers: “It was a well-used pub. There’s a few different stories. There’s the one where the publican walked out and left it wide open. I was in the Conqueror [William the Conqueror, in Petersfield Avenue]. Someone got a phone call from their mate and came in and said ‘it’s an open house’ in there – I’ve never seen a pub empty so fast.”
The story goes that the ale flowed for two days until somebody phoned the police who came to clear it out and lock it up.
Don remembers hearing of fights in the pub due to the fondness of some of its regulars for gambling – one man owing another money and so on.
“There was one big fight I heard about where the publican locked himself in a room upstairs until it finished.
“It sounds bad but it was actually a good pub,” he said. “But it was like many on the estate. They were all very cliquey – you went in one pub if you supported one football team and in another if you supported someone else. And if you went in the wrong one, you’d know about it. The Pompadours was no exception.
“It’s now changed for the better, and personally I wouldn’t like to see it go. But with news of 3,500 homes coming to Rainham, maybe they’ll leave Harold Hill alone.
“The estate was built to have open green spaces, that’s what Abercrombie wanted. Over the years it has got worse and worse. There’s a lot of people saying they have had enough.”
The application, which will be decided on by May 5, includes 11 houses, seven flats and seven maisonettes to be built on the site.
Were you at the infamous two-day session? What are your memories of The Pompadour? Contact Sam on 020 8477 3810 or email firstname.lastname@example.org