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SE18 > Director General
Date of photo: 2005
Source: Chris Mansfield
The Director General was situated at 55
Wellington Street. This pub has now been demolished and replaced by a Tesco
The Director General was a very old school pub
and had the “familiar” feel to it when you walked in. Very much populated by
local council workers, people from the Kentish Independent newspaper and and
also students. The pub was over 100 years old and if you ever ventured into
the cellar there were still signs of its origins. There were numbers on the
doors throughout the building and all the original wall gas fittings were
still present. the building still had its ornate window sills ( albeit held
together by paint) and the windows were all sash ones right till the end
although only a couple could still be opened after 100 years of over
glossing. The carpet smelt of stale beer and spilt beer which to this day
still reminds me of home. Just one of those familiar smells you only get
from somewhere that seems to keep a remnant of every person who visits. Old
hand pump drinks were there in the form of Courage best and Directors but in
a world of fast lager drinking they are slowly becoming something of a lost
piece of pub history. The interior of the DG stayed very similar over the 15
years I knew it with only furniture reshuffles taking place.
The third to last owner Stanley Downs was a true old time gentleman with old
school values. He was a very well known and respected character and also had
owned many other public houses including the Pickwick in Charlton and the
“Squire/Tigers Head” in Bromley and always dressed in a suit. He ran the pub
for more years than i could guess at. He along with his very good friend
Bill carried out all the refits between them including the removal of a
payphone booth and half the bar which originally ran in a long oval shape.
They also removed the flat roof above the bar area without closing the pub
at all. Bill used to reupholster the seats as required and carried out the
work to a very high standard.
The pub saw many changes over the years and one of the most noticeable was
the opening of a food bar. The food was very well prepared and cheap enough
to be able to afford to eat there daily. There were many long term customers
drinking there and any time of day you were sure to find or spot a familiar
face, one of the two Jimmys, Slim, Geoff, old Mick to name just a few. . .
The pub itself like so many others was reputed to have been a little
haunted. it was the previous owner from many years prevous who had lived
there. Apparently. after his funeral ,all the locals plundered the pub and
took most the pubs contents.
Don't get me wrong ,the haunting wasn't a horror story, more like someone
watching over things. Doors would shut, windows would shut, staff would see
people disappearing round corners or feel someone touch their shoulders.
Obviously not everyone's a believer but if you walked down through the
lounge when the pub was closed, about a third of the way down you'd walk
through a freezing cold area. I was setting up a disco one night and
discovered it. It turns out that many years later the second to last manager
experienced a similar event while throwing a ball for her dog into the area
in the early hours.
Barrels would just “be on racking” in the cellar despite no one being there
to lift them...........the list goes on but its all irrelevant now sadly.
I lived in the pub for 15 years and moved out many many years ago and have
seen many things happen to that lovely public house but the saddest day was
when I drove past where it had always been only to see yet another local
trade killing Tescos being built. Yet another fantastic piece of old
Woolwich history destroyed to quench the ongoing need for housing people who
don't even pay rent and supermarkets. Maybe one day I'll go back to have a
drink in the area and see whats left of what used to be the area with more
pubs per square mile than anywhere else thanks to the Arsenal and the
Dockyard. I doubt it would become a regular though, just a one off to see
how much history had been erased.
Rick Carver (August 2012)
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