‘West Ham killed us’: Pub landlord sells up after club’s move loses him £400k a year
- Credit: Archant
The landlord of the Denmark Arms has served his last pint at the historic local.
Ron Bolwell sold the lease on the Barking Road boozer which closed its doors on Sunday.
Mr Bolwell – who was meant to run the watering hole for two weeks while the brewery looked for a replacement when the last landlord left in 1986 – said: “I’m old. We’re going to a smaller pub. I’m not quite ready to retire yet.”
The 81-year-old said his predecessor behind the bar of the Grade-II listed venue left because she couldn’t cope with trouble-makers.
But Mr Bolwell soon knocked it into shape.
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“We’ve seen lots and lots of changes. Most of our customers used to be typcial east-enders. You had to watch your pockets. It was fairly rough, but we calmed it down,” he said.
The greatgrandad laughed as he looked back on fond memories of angry wives storming into the pub yelling at their husbands that dinner was on the table.
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He recalled one woman who rushed in with one punter’s dinner on a plate fuming he hadn’t come home for tea.
“He dipped his finger in the gravy and said, ‘It’s cold’,” Mr Bolwell said. It wasn’t clear what fate awaited him when he got home.
“We’ve got a lot to answer for,” Mr Bolwell chuckled – including marriages with regulars lining up to “blame” the pub as a spot where romance blossomed.
For Mr Bolwell – whose home was above the bar – a further reason behind the move is clear.
“West Ham killed us,” he said before explaining that takings were down £400,000 a year following the club’s move to Stratford’s London Stadium two years ago.
But the landlord – who came out of retirement in his sixties and has knotched up 40 years in the trade – won’t be calling time on his career just yet after moving to sister pub The Queens in Green Street, Upton Park.
“There’ll be big changes all round,” he said.
As for the Denmark Arms, at the time of going to press pub chain Antic London had yet to complete on the sale.