Sunday, April 09, 2023

Skehans - best pub in London?

Good showing for SE London in Time Out's '50 Best Pubs in London' 2023 pub of the year awards, announced a couple of weeks ago.

My local, Skehans (Kitto Road SE14), is now the best pub in London apparently. A few years ago it was quite empty on some mid week nights but its managed to grow in popularity without losing its older regulars and now 'attracts everyone from OAPs to local bands, chic fashion students and troupes of cheerful lads. There’s karaoke, folk-music nights and terrific Thai food too. What more could you want? Perfect Guinness? Well, this is a proper Irish pub, so you’re in luck'. As well as winning this award, the pub has also been mentioned in  the last year in everything from The Tatler (which described it as 'a magnet for Guinness-swilling arty types') to the Limerick Post (its owner Bryan Fitzsimons hails from there). Not to mention featuring as a location in ITV drama series 'You and Me'.

Morris dancers outside Skehans earlier this year

The Blythe Hill Tavern in Catford comes in at no.7, a classic Irish pub with music sessions and scene for me of many running club (Kent AC) committee meetings upstairs. The Ivy House in Nunhead is in at number 10, great community owned pub and home to the Goose is Out folk club and other music nights. 

Elsewhere in the top 50 we have the Prince of Peckham (19), The Gowlett in Peckham (23), The Dog and Bell in Deptford (32), The Mayflower in Rotherhithe (35), The Camberwell Arms (46). All good choices though I am sure we all have our own preferences - personally would like to see New Cross House in there for instance, maybe next year.

Skehans history

Skehans has received media attention before, being featured on the Evening Standard's Cool List in 2018. The pub has been there since the 1890s, originally known as the Duke of Albany.  The Time Out article lists its location as Nunhead, which makes sense as it is near to Nunhead station. The Tatler article, which is pretty clueless, says Brockley but that would really be stretching it. Others would point to its SE14 address and claim it for New Cross, or for Telegraph Hill. I guess it's a postcode border zone - interestingly an early listing as a masonic meeting place gives its address as the Duke of Albany Hotel, Kitto Road, St Katherine's-park, Hatcham (The Freemason, 8 October 1892). St Katherine's Park was the original names for the Victorian housing development on Telegraph Hill, but the name doesn't seem to have stuck. In the 1990s the pub was known as McConnell's free house, and was also known locally for many years as the red house on account of its red bricks. 

If you look closely today at the brickwork on the Gellatly Road side of the pub you will see some graffiti scratched in the bricks all seemingly dating from June 1971 - among the initials we can see FW, TE, CW, WD and others. Wonder who these were and what was happening on those June days more than 50 years ago?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pub, pity they don’t allow dogs. For anyone looking for dog friendly pubs in south London