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Home > London > SW10 > Gunter Arms

Gunter Arms

Picture source: Chris Amies


 
The Gunter Arms was situated at 451 Fulham Road, having closed in 2004.
 
I was a barman/cellarman at the Gunter Arms in the early 90's when in my early twenties at around the time the attached image was taken. The landlord at the time was a wonderful character named Bill, an ex-merchant navy man who, with his white mustache-less beard, looked every part the ex-sailor. His wife, Gwendoline, was the landlady and cook and they had a young daughter of school age named Natalie who also lived on the premises. In addition to having a loyal band of locals, we served a broad range of customers, from the international students from the then neighbouring King's College,to off-duty drag queens from the nearby Redcliffe Pub.
We also had thriving pool and darts teams and would often travel to other London pubs to compete or have them visit us, as part of a league.The pub's centrepiece was an imposing horseshoe bar from which we served a standard range or Taylor Walker-stocked drinks, including Castlemaine 4X, Lowenbrau and Burton's Ale and of course Guinness. A Victorian manager's office stood at the back of the bar, complete with original etched glass. The dart board was to the left of the bar and was usually in play by our local regulars, such as Michael, a towering Chinese gentleman who could throw a mean set of 'arrows. The upstairs, with its two pool tables, were accessed via an imposing sweeping staircase to the rear of the pub and which can be seen by zooming in through the open door in the attached image.
The first customer in each weekday was an impeccably turned out and somewhat camp elderly gentleman named Tim, who would arrive immediately on opening time each day, and occasionally before, for his one pint of Guinness.which would be followed by a half, during the consumption of which he would smoke a quantity of Silk Cut cigarettes. Although he would often comment on how good the Guiness was that we served (it was all about keeping the lines clean and pulling enough pints through) on leaving he would regularly press a monetary tip into the hands of any female bar staff on duty, saying "this is for you, dear" but would never tip me or any male colleagues, irrespective of the fact that we would be the ones who would pour and carry his drinks over to him where he sat.
Match days when Chelsea were playing at home were always frantic and colourful, with trouble kept from our doors by a loyal firm of regular Chelsea supporters who, along with Bill, would police admission whilst we worked flat out keeping the pints flowing in the direction of the hundreds of Chelsea supporters who would cram into the pub pre or post to the game. The baseball bats that Bill would preposition under the bar top in case of 'an emergency', were never called upon, although seeing running pitch battles unfold outside on the Fulham Road between Chelsea fans and whichever rivals they were playing that particular week was far from an uncommon sight. There was a quiz each Sunday which Bill would host and compère and which would pack-out the pub with locals prior to us having to call time to much groaning and protestation and close between the hours of 15.00 and 19:00 in line with the then Sunday licencing laws
I remember being once locked out after losing my keys and had to get myself in at four o'clock in the morning by scaling the exterior wall and getting in through a ajar first floor window so as not to wake up and incur the wrath of Bill and Gwen for doing so. Unfortunately, the two plain clothes police officers who must have witnessed me doing so and assumed I was attempting a burglary had other ideas and took some convincing from me and indeed from a somewhat bleary eyed and tetchy Bill that I posed no threat to anyone but myself.
It was a vibrant pub and a real community hub which catered to all kinds and creeds from young to old, postmen to politicos he's,she's and inbetweens and everyone accepted the other and got on. It is a terrible shame that it was lost and speaks volumes on the greed of breweries and pub co's in affluent town centres where profits from real estate sales are put way before the interests of local people and their fragile and often undervalued local heritage.
Ritchie B-P (November 2020)
 

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Name Dates Comments
Patrick 1978-1985 I worked in this pub when it was owned by the wonderful Paddy Whitty and his family. I still say they were some of the best years of my life...every customer was a character with a story to tell or to be talked about. I knew everyone by name including little Eilse who never ever gave me the full price of her bottle of Guinness! We also had customers like Rory Gallagher and Johnny Rotten mixing with the local road sweeper or Qcs! Great Times!