The Anchor Pub The Southbank, London, UK.
St Paul’s Cathedral in the background.
Camera Nikon D700 with 28-300mm Nikon Lense. ISO 200, 1/50th sec, f/10.0, 42mm. Handheld, App Priority.
The History of the Ancient Anchor Pub
This historic pub, on the south bank of the Thames, is a favourite with tourists. It has several bars, a restaurant and roof terrace, both of which have wonderful views across the Thames to the City, and a large seated area on the riverbank. A recent refurbishment has added a fish and chip shop; the oldest and most atmospheric part of the building with its low beams, exposed brickwork and open fireplaces, has been converted into a tea rooms. Not open to the public, but available for functions, is the beautiful Shakespeare Room, which is clad in mellow 18th century pine panelling.
The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area. The pub’s original structure has been added-to over the centuries, creating a maze of odd little beamed rooms. One is named after Samuel Johnson, the lexicographer and writer, who drank here regularly and was a friend of the Thrale’s who owned the pub and the phenominally successful Anchor porter brewery, which when offered for sale Johnson said ‘We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice’. A copy of Johnson’s dictionary is on display.
It was from this pub that Samuel Pepys witnessed the awesome destruction of the Great Fire of London in 1666. He describes the dreadful heat and “fire drops” falling on him whilst in a boat on the river. He sought refuge in “a little alehouse on bankside …..and there watched the fire grow”.
The Anchor has a new old neighbour too, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre recreated just along the waterfront and Bankside’s cultural boom continues with the Tate Modern gallery a little further upstream. The local streets are full of character and are a favourite location for filmmakers; Tom Cruise has a pint outside the Anchor in ‘Mission Impossible’.
The Anchor has attracted much criticism for its extensive modernisation and enlargement; the walled courtyard was built upon, providing another large bar and a Premier Hotel was built on the car park. Although most of the original pub has survived, albeit with minor alterations, it has been dwarfed by the sheer scale of the additions.
On the plus side, the old building has received some overdue maintenance and its fabric has been preserved. On balance it’s a shame this lovely old pub was not enlarged more sympathetically but at least it has been preserved and is cared for. Perhaps it would have been better to build a completely new pub next to it and leave the old one well alone.