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Home > London > SE1 > Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Date of photo: 1960

Picture source: Timothy Keane

The Dover Castle was situated at 42 Davidge Street. This pub is now in residential use.
Interested to see a photo of the Dover Castle building and a request for information. In 1964-5 I was a young New Zealander on my OE (overseas experience) teaching at a primary school in London. To earn some extra cash I worked for an agent, playing piano in pubs around the East End on weekends. After a night of playing at the Dover Castle the landlord offered me a residency - Saturday and Sunday nights. (I’ve forgotten his name - he and his wife ran the pub - a lovely couple who had a lad called Charlie.)
I stayed there for about a year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Everyone was very friendly - many of the older punters had met Kiwi servicemen during the war - and I had to limit my alcohol intake in order to be able to play the piano in a reasonably competent fashion. Back then, having a resident pianist in a pub was very common - a practice that I assume has virtually disappeared. There were a number of firm favourites sung be everyone, and several solos that were regularly performed by individual punters (whose voices covered the full gamut of quality!). Being a ‘colonial’ I was unfamiliar with some of the favourites but quickly learned to choose an easy key and follow the singer with chords until I had picked up the melody. On one such memorable occasion a sweet old lady approached me and asked if she could sing a song. “Of course,” I replied. “What’s the name of the song?” She smiled wickedly and responded, “Show me your yo yo tonight”. She then proceeded to launch into a very suggestive ditty, with me following with appropriate chords - wondering what my strict church-going mother back home would have thought had she been present.
On my last Sunday night the pub was crowded as a large number of patrons turned out to wish me well. It was wonderful, and left me with a strong affinity with the people and the places of the East End. I’m sorry the Dover Castle has gone, but pleased that the building still exists. I’m sure there are many others like me who have fond memories of this British pub.
John Reynolds, Auckland (November 2016)

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Other Photos

Picture source: Darkstar