The Finborough Arms History

The Finborough Arms circa 1938. Image courtesy June Inskip.

The Finborough Arms was built by William Corbett and Alexander McClymont in 1868 as part of their Redcliffe Estate development. The building was designed by architect, playwright, journalist and editor of The Builder Magazine, George Godwin (28 January 1813 – 27 January 1888), alongside his brother Henry (1831-1917).

George Godwin (1813-1888), architect of the Finborough Arms.

The Finborough Arms building stands on one of the most important lay-lines in the UK. Known as The Secondary Triangle, it forms an equilateral triangle (internal angles 60° and sides equal) with the key points of Boudicca’s Mound on Hampstead Heath, the Tower of London and Brompton Cemetery. The base of this triangle links the Tower, Southwark Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and the Brompton Cemetery plus a number of other key sites, some of which have now disappeared.

The Redcliffe Estate included five pubs, all built between 1865 and 1868 – the Finborough Arms, the Ifield Arms on Ifield Road, the Redcliffe Arms in Fulham Road, the Hollywood Arms in Hollywood Road, and the Coleherne Arms (now The Pembroke) in Old Brompton Road. Originally, they had also intended to build a sixth pub – the Harcourt Arms at 26 and 28 Redcliffe Mews. Only three still remain as pubs – the Ifield Arms is now flats, and the Redcliffe Arms is now a supermarket.

Built when the local area was largely made up of farms and market gardens, the Finborough Arms building stands on a former gravel pit.

The original ground floor design featured three entrances to separate snuggeries (drinking rooms), intended to keep the various social classes separate.

The first floor has over the years been a restaurant, a Masonic Lodge, a billiards hall, a sitting room for the pub staff, and, from 1980, a theatre.

Although the pub was built in 1868, the pub did not open until 1871.

John Dee (Born South Molton, Devon, 1833 – died Anerley, Surrey, 1880) purchased a 90 year lease of the new building for £5000 in 1869. At the time of purchase, he ran The Gladstone pub in Bishopsgate in the City of London. However, the pub could not open immediately as he had a considerable battle to be granted his alcohol licence. The licence was first refused in March 1869. On 2 April 1870, a licence was granted to the nearby Ifield Arms, but refused for the Finborough Arms. The licence was finally granted on 22 March 1871.

By September 1874, the pub had been taken over by the Finch family who ran it until 1921. The lease they purchased was for 90 years, but it is unclear who held the freehold.

William Finch was born in St George Hanover Square on 4 September 1838. His father, William Finch (born Clapham 1811, died at The County Arms 1862) , was the landlord of The County Arms, Wandsworth Common, for many years.

Mary Ann Lydia Shrimpton’s family were also in the licensed trade. She was born on 9 February 1847 in The Good Man pub, Bolsover Street, Marylebone, where her father was landlord. As Mary Ann was later to do after the death of William Finch, her mother continued as landlady in her own right after the death of Mary Ann’s father. Mary Ann’s stepfather, William Gooderham, was also in the trade, and was landlord of The Goat, Buckingham Palace Road, when he died in 1875. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, along with Mary Ann’s mother.

William and Mary Ann married on 17 May 1867 at St Peter’s, Pimlico, and ran the Bee Hive pub in Holloway, from at least May 1870 to January 1873.

The couple had ten children:
William Joseph Finch. Born in The County Arms, Wandsworth, in 1878. He disappears from the records, and likely died in infancy.
Fanny Lydia Finch. Born in The County Arms, Wandsworth, in May 1869. She died three weeks later, and was buried at St Mary’s, Battersea, on 25 June 1869.
Mary Ann Ada Finch. Born in the Bee Hive, Holloway, on 15 May 1870.
Florence Catherine Finch. Born in the Bee Hive, Holloway, on 16 October 1871.
Alice Elizabeth Finch. Born in the Finborough Arms on 21 September 1874.
Edith Eliza Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 25 March 1876.
Emily Bray Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms in October 1877.
Marion Emma Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 7 January 1879.
Ernest Shrimpton Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 23 November 1880. 
Fanny Elsie Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 26 August 1886.

Their staff in residence on the census night of 31 March 1881 were:
Fanny Bridges. Age 22. Born about 1859 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Occupation – Servant. 
Annie Brown. Age 24. Born about 1857 in Sandhurst, Berkshire. Occupation – Barmaid. 
Ruth Channer. Age 29. Born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, in 1851. Occupation – Servant. 
Ruth Channer moved with the Finch family from their previous pub in Holloway. She married Thomas Hooke King in 1883, and died at 37 Frances Street, Battersea, in 1888. She is buried in Brompton Cemetery.
Rebecca White. Age 64. Born about 1817 in Isleham, Cambridgeshire. Occupation – Nurse.

One of the Finborough Arms’ most regular customers in this period was sanitary pioneer Thomas Crapper (1836-1910). The manufacturer of sanitary goods and improver of the Water Waste Preventer (the syphon fitted in British cisterns) who promoted plumbed bathroom fittings and brought them out of the closet. He founded Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861 who were based, successively, in Robert Street, Draycott Avenue and the King’s Road, and the firm still exists today. He and his brother, George, would regularly begin their working day in the Finborough Arms with a bottle of champagne.

Thomas Crapper (1836-1910). Image courtesy MJC Plumbing.

In residence on census night, 31 March 1891, were the Finch family and their staff:
Kate Gould. Age 22. Born about 1869 in Notting Hill, London, England. Occupation – Servant. 
Mary Annie Jones. Age 37. Born about 1854 in Newbridge, Radnorshire, Wales. Occupation – Barmaid. 
and still in service with the family,
Rebecca White. Age 74. A widow, born about 1817 in Isleham, Cambridgeshire. Occupation – Nurse. Rebecca died at the Finborough Arms on 9 March 1898.

The Manager for William Finch in 1896 was William Henry Deacon, born in Middlesex in 1834. Buried in Brompton Cemetery, his sudden demise was reported in the West London Observer on Saturday, June 27 1896:

At the Kensington Town Hall, on Monday, Mr C. Luxmoore Drew held an inquest on the body of William Henry Deacon, the manager to Mr William Finch, a licensed victualler, of the Finborough Arms, Finborough-road, Earl’s-court. On Friday night last [19 June 1896], the deceased left his place of employment as usual to return to his home at 109 Finborough-road. He was then apparently quite well, but as he did not go to work the next morning Mr Finch went to the house, and finding his door locked, and unable to get any answer to his repeated calls, he procured another key and on entering the room found him dead in bed. The police, and Dr. Haines, the divisional surgeon of police were called. The latter attributed death to fatty degeneration of the heart and disease of the kidneys, accelerated by alcoholism. The jury returned a verdict to this effect.”

William Finch and his family moved to a more spacious house at ‘Cosham’, 2 Leopold Road, Ealing Common, after 1891, but remained as landlords of the Finborough Arms until 1921.

William Finch died at 2 Leopold Road on 11 February 1907.

Emily Bray Finch died in Ealing on 26 February 1929, aged 51.

By 1940, the long-widowed Mary Ann and her six surviving unmarried daughters had lived at 2 Leopold Road, Ealing, for nearly fifty than forty years. On 18 October 1940, a single high explosive bomb destroyed the house so completely that their rescuers were recommended for three gallantry medals for digging the family out of the rubble. Florence Catherine Finch, aged 69, and her sister Mary Ann Ada Finch, aged 70, died at the scene. The matriarch of the family, Mary Ann Lydia Finch, died of her injuries in hospital two days later. She was 93 years old.

Ernest Shrimpton Finch married Minnie Crapper (1880-1976), the great-niece of Thomas Crapper (see above), in 1906. The couple emigrated to Canada in 1911 and settled in Alberta, where they had two daughters – Muriel Emma (1907-1927) who died in childbirth, and Joan Ada (1915-1991). Ernest died in Red Deer, Alberta, on 8 October 1954.

The surviving sisters moved to Wokingham in Berkshire:
Alice Elizabeth Finch died in Beaufort House Nursing Home, Grange Park, Ealing, on 2 February 1942.
Marion Emma Finch died in Wokingham Hospital on 27 September 1958.
Edith Eliza Finch died in Wokingham on 26 February 1962.
Fanny Elsie Finch died in Wokingham on 14 January 1970.

Under the Finch management, the pub continued to be run by resident staff:

Present on census night, 31 March 1901:
Martha Stephenson, Public House Manageress. She was 25 and born in Battersea.
Percy Frank Hunt, Public House Manager. He was 24 and born in Leamington, Warwickshire.
Alice Hagg. A 20 year old barmaid from Norwich, Norfolk. 
Lottie Cook. Another 20 year old barmaid, from Kilburn, London.
Matilda Page. A 26 year old “Cook General (Domestic)” from Lambeth, London.

By 1911, Percy Hunt was running the Blantyre Arms in Blantyre Street with his wife, Georgina Emma Hunt, He died in 1947 in Battersea; and Martha Stephenson was a single servant, resident at The Chelsea Potter at 119 King’s Road.

Following the death of William Finch in February 1907, the lease was auctioned on 16 May 1907 at a profit rental of £103 per annum, with 58 years left to run on the lease. It is unclear if the lease was actually sold as Mrs Finch continued as landlady until 1921, but this may have been when Whitbread Brewery (who owned the building until 2000) purchased the lease.

Present on census night, 2 April 1911: 
George Edward Uwins. Manager. A 29 year old single man from Reigate, Surrey. Licensed for the bar trade in Victoria. (See below)
Hilda Louise Ball. Manageress. A 39 year old widow from Cork, Ireland. Licensed for the bar trade in Victoria. 
Jane Ann Duff. Servant, Cook and Domestic. Born on 4 March 1864 in Perthshire, Scotland. She died in Wigton, Cumberland, on 28 December 1950.
Margaret Bowen. Barmaid. A 30 year old single woman from Mill End, London 
Constance May Giles. Barmaid. A 22 year old single woman from Battersea, London 

George Edward Uwins (1881-1931) was manager of The Finborough Arms between 1909-1910 to sometime between 1917 and 1919.
George Edward Uwins was born in Reigate, Surrey, in 1881. He married Ada Sharp (1883-1966) at St. Paul’s, Bow Common, on 26 August 1914. In 1901, George was employed as a barman, living at The Magpie and Punch Bowl Pub, 58 Bishopsgate Street in the City of London. George and Ada’s first two children were born at The Finborough Arms – George Thomas on 15 July 1915, and Ada Frances on 15 February 1917. George died at the age of 11 in Thanet, Kent, in April 1927; Ada known as Ann, married Reginald Miles in Fulham in 1943, and died in Hertfordshire on 1 April 2001.
George and Ada’s third child Sidney Leonard was born at 493 Fulham Road on 1 May 1918, when George was described as a Licensed Victualler’s manager, but no place of business was given. (Sidney died in Lampeter, Wales, on 11 October 1994). By 1920, George was the licensee of The Latimer Arms, 13 Norland Road, Notting Hill, where his three remaining children were born. George Uwins died of alcohol-related disease (fatty degeneration of heart, cirrhosis of liver and chronic gastritis) on 6 March 1931 in Ducane Hospital, Ducane Road, Hammersmith.

The manager of The Finborough Arms in 1919 was Ernest Edward Levitt (born Woolwich in 1874 – died Enfield in 1939). He went on to run The Goat in Ponder’s End for many years.

On Christmas Eve 1919, Ada Roberts, cook at the Finborough Arms, committed suicide. The story is taken from two local newspaper reports:

Mr. H. R. Oswald held an inquest on Ada Roberts, 55, cook at the “Finborough Arms.” Kensington. She left her situation suddenly, took oxalic acid in the street, and went into the receiving ward of Kensington Workhouse, where she expired a few minutes after.
Ernest Livett, of the “Finborough Arms” said she was naturally a very morbid woman. She had been brought up in Chelsea Workhouse for 14 years, and was embittered against everything. She never appreciated a kind word. She very often threatened to take her own life. She disappeared on December 23rd and he informed the police.
May Brown, receiving wards-woman at Kensington Infirmary, said the deceased came there at 8p.m. on Christmas Eve with a relieving officer’s order. A few minutes later she appeared to be ill and said she had taken poison. Witness sent for the doctor.
Mrs. Warnes, an attendant, said she gave an emetic when she said, “I have taken spirits of salts.” In her handbag she found a cup and a small bottle.
Dr. Remington Hobbs said the woman died as he arrived. Death was due to poisoning by salts of lemon.
A verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity” was returned.”

The West London Observer reported on 3 September 1920:

John Edmonds, 45, labourer, of 127, Glanville Road, Kilburn, was charged with stealing and receiving a quantity of port wine, worth 12s., belonging to Ernest Edward Livett, licensed victualler, of the “Finborough Arms,” Finborough Road, South Kensington. He was further charged with assaulting P.c. Plowright, 612B, by kicking him on the ankle and striking him in the stomach. P.c. Plowright did not attend the Court, and was stated to be on the sick list.
Mr. Livett said he did not wish to go on with the charge of stealing the port wine.
In reply to the Magistrate, he stated that prisoner and other men were engaged on re-flooring the cellar. On Friday afternoon he went down to the cellar and found the prisoner and another man there. Prisoner was slightly under the influence of drink, and there were some cups there which had contained port wine. He discovered that a lot of port wine was missing – the wine could have been got by a tap from a barrel.
Prisoner: You punched me in the face and knocked me senseless on the floor.
Mr. Levitt denied that, and said he never laid hands on the prisoner, except to help him up the stairs.
P.c. Woodger, 487B, stated that he heard a police whistle and went to Finborough Road, where he saw the prisoner struggling with P.c. Plowright. He saw him kick P.c. Plowright, who fell to the ground. Witness arrested prisoner, who was taken to the police station on the police ambulance: P.c. Plowright was so badly injured that he had to be taken to the station in a motor car.
Edmonds was sentenced to two months’ hard labour.

In the 1921 edition of the London and Suburbs Hughes Directory, the pub was still registered to M. A. L. Finch – Mary Ann Lydia Finch. On 11 October 1921, the pub was leased by Whitbread to The Improved Public House Company Limited who held it on seven year leases, renewed in 1928 and 1935 at a rent of £100 per annum. The Improved Public House Company was the brainchild of Whitbread director Sir Sydney Oswald Neville (1873-1969) and was founded in 1920 to assume responsibility for the management of its new large outlets. Its purpose was to develop and refurbish public houses to make them appeal to a wider public with an emphasis on “fewer and better” pubs, centred around larger, “improved” premises, run by salaried managers instead of independent tenants. By 1939, the company owned 17 pubs and managed a further 32.

Beer delivery at the Finborough Arms, circa 1938. Image courtesy June Inskip.

The building was approved for alterations in February 1922 and again in April 1931, but it is not known what alterations were made.

On 9 January 1925, the licence was transferred from William Alfred Charles Denny and William Worwood, to Alfred Ernest Warr and William Worwood.
Uner the management of the Improved Public House Company, it seems that the pub licence was held in the name of the actual landlord of the pub, and the Company Secretary of the Improved Public House Company. In this case, Worwood was the landlord, and Denny and Warr worked for the Improved Public House Company.
William Denny had previously been licensee of the Grove Tavern, Beauchamp Place, and the Walmer Castle, Ledbury Road, and went to run the Fox and Hounds Hotel, 167 Upper Richmond Road, Putney.
Alfred Warr (born Camberwell 1865 – died Worthing, Sussex, 1936) was the licensee of The White Horse in Lambeth from 1895 to 1911.
William Worwood’s wife Edith was assaulted by John James Markham in 1925. His trial was delayed when he was discovered unconscious on his bed at 24 Redcliffe Mews suffering from gas poisoning. After he was released from hospital, he was charged and tried with attempted suicide. He was acquitted after admitting that he was the “worse for drink” and “If I had meant to commit suicide, I wouldn’t have left the window and the door open.” He promised to abstain from intoxicants in the future.

At the end of July 1925, the licence was transferred again from Warr and Worwood to Warr and Edwin Albert Jennings King (born at the Spread Eagle Pub, Hackney, 1884 – died Lambeth 1954).

The landlord from the early 1930s to 1939 was Henry Charles Beale. In October 1936, the licence was renewed by Finborough Arms landlord Henry Charles Beale, and Albert James Wainwright of the Improved Public House Company.

Present on the 29 September 1939:
Henry C. Beale. Born 11 November 1900. Publican. Married.
Irene R. Beale. Born 26th October 1899. Publican. Married.
June A. Beale. Born 1929. Child.
Annie R. Lush. Born 18 May 1874. Barmaid. Widowed. [Mother of Irene],
William S. James. Born 11 February 1870. Barman. Divorced.
Thomas Conway. Born 12 April 1913. Barman. Single.

Harry Beale and his wide Irene. Image courtesy June Inskip.

Henry Charles Beale, always known as Harry, was born 11 November 1900 in Leeds, Yorkshire. He married Irene Rosina Lush in Christchurch, Hampshire, in 1925. He died on 8 January 1944 of tuberculosis at Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton, at the age of 43. They had one child, June, born in 1929. He was landlord of the Finborough Arms until late 1939. Other pubs Harry Beale ran included The Black Raven, Bishopsgate, which like the Finborough Arms, was also owned by Improved Public House Co Ltd. From 1940, he ran The Lion Hotel, North Road, Caledonian Market, which the family had to leave when a bomb broke all of the windows (although the building survived), and later the Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton.
Irene Rosina Lush was born 26 October 1899 in Parkstone, Dorset. She died in Poole, Dorset, in 1962.
Her mother, Annie Rosina Lush nee Gibbons, was born in Turnham Green, London, on 18 May 1874. She died in June 1951 in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Their daughter, June Annette Beale, was born in July 1929 at the The Black Raven Pub, Bishopsgate. She married George Inskip (1923-2003). She died on 26 February 2020 at the Zetland Court Care Home, Bournemouth, Dorset.
Other residents in the late 1930s included Harry Beale’s nephew, Brian Beale (1928-2016) together with his mother Edna (1907-1988) who both lived there for several months.

June Beale and friend circa 1940. Image courtesy June Inskip.

A barmaid in July 1934 was a Miss Lucy May Page (born Hackney 1901 – died Bristol 1980) who left to get married.

On 13 July 1934, the Westminster and Pimlico News reported that “A jujitsu encounter in a public-house had a sequel at the West London Police Court yesterday (Thursday), when Leonard Skinner (27), fruiterer, 88 Munster-road, Fulham, appeared before Mr. Marshall on a remanded charge of causing grievous bodily harm to Williams Shields, club secretary, 3 Cathcart-road, West Brompton, by striking him on the face with his fist.
The hearing had be adjourned from May 31 for the attendance of the prosecutor, who had been detained in hospital with a fractured jaw.
The accused was represented by Mr. Hankins.
The prosecutor, giving evidence, said that on the evening of May 30 he was in the Finborough Arms public-house, playing a game of “shoveha’penny,” when the defendant, whom he had known for a considerable time, came in and called for a drink. Witness turned round and nodded to him, and then they “had a few words.”
In cross-examination, witness agreed that a day or two before, he had given another man a black eye, and that when the defendant entered the bar, he smiled at him and some reference was made to the incident.
Mr. Hawkins: I think you have some knowledge of the art of jujitsu?
Witness: Yes.
And probably you know that a hold by the lapels of the coat near the neck is calculated to throw a man off his balance? – Yes.
You caught hold of the defendant in that way? – Yes.
I suggest that he lost his balance and fell against the counter. Then, on the rebound, his flat caught you on the chin? –Yes.
There was no further evidence and the magistrate dismissed the charge.”

A barman from 1934 to 1935 was Arthur Corr (born c. 1914).
In May 1935, Corr (who lived at 128 Ifield Road) pleaded guilty to stealing £54 10s. belonging to the pub landlord, Henry Charles Beale.
The Westminster and Pimlico News reported that:
“Detective Scaddan said that on May 15 the prisoner was given the money, which was partly in cash and partly in cheques and postal orders, to take to the bank, but disappeared. Arrested the next day he had only £19 left, and he explained that he had used the remainder to pay gambling debts. He had been employed by the prosecutor about 14 months and had hitherto been satisfactory, but it appeared that he had got into difficulties with book-makers. He had once before been charged. In 1932 he was bound over for stealing.”
Corr was sentenced to three months imprisonment.

The licensee from January 1940 until at least 1951 was Richard William Edward Featherstone, who was born in Marylebone on 26 July 1905, and died in Southwark in April 1969. He ran the pub with his wife, Ivy Maud Emily Featherstone, nee Foote, born in Fulham on 28 August 1909, who died in Southwark on 20 August 1987; and his mother-in-law, Ellen Bubb, born 22 December 1881, who died in Bromley in 1958, who lived at the Finborough Arms on and off between 1945 and 1951.

From the West London Advertiser, 19 December 1941:
Late Drinks at the Finborough Arms
Before Mr. Paul Bennett at West London Police Court on Tuesday, Richard William Edward Featherstone, the Finborough Arms public house, 118 Finborough Road, Fulham Road, was summoned for unlawfully selling supplying intoxicating liquor during other than permitted hours. Ernest Newton, 24 Slaidburn Street, Chelsea, Sydney George Price, 74 Gladesmore Road, South Tottenham, Cecilia Berry and Alexander Mitchell Berry, both of 4 Westgate Terrace, Kensington, were summoned for consuming intoxicating liquor during other than permitted hours at The Finborough Arms. All defendants admitted the summonses. The prosecuting solicitor said the summons against Mr Featherstone for supplying the liquor would not be proceeded with in view of the fact that he had pleaded guilty to the summons for selling liquor. A police inspector saw a light shining inside The Finborough Arms on October 18 at 10.50 pm. Closing time was 10 pm. He heard noises inside the public house and the sounds of money being handled. knocked on the door just after 11 pm and the lights inside were turned down and people were heard moving about inside the bar. The door was eventually opened but none of defendants was in the bar. At first the licensee denied there was anybody there but when the inspector said he was not satisfied he said “I give up. I may as well tell the truth.” Defendants were then seen upstairs. They each had a half pint glass containing beer. The glasses were found on the stairs and each defendant admitted that they were their drinks. The licensee said Mr and Mrs Berry were friends but he did not know their address. He added, “I should have known better because I have been connected with this trade for 14 years.” There were no convictions against him. Price told the magistrate he spent Christmas with Mr Featherstone in 1939. Mr Berry said he was a friend of Mr Featherstone.

“Desert Surrounded by An Oasis”
Mr Leslie Smith, who defended Mr Featherstone, said all four of the other defendants had been customers in the public house of which Mr Featherstone was licensee. Mr and Mrs Berry were old friends and the other two were just customers with whom Mr Featherstone had become friendly. “Although Featherstone has made an ass of himself.” said Mr Smith “he has been man enough to attend court and tell the truth. Perhaps it is my fault that these houses have to close at 10 o’clock because I made applications for a change from 10 to 11 o’clock and I have not succeeded. Kensington is like a desert surrounded by an oasis of houses open until 11 o’clock at night, whereas we have to close at 10 o’clock.” Mr Smith and said Mr Featherstone had been the licensee for 2 1/2 years. He had been in the trade for 17 years. The business was a small one run by himself, his wife and mother-in-law. He also did stretcher party duties in the A.R.P. service. The licensee was fined £5 with £3 3s costs. The other defendants were each fined 20s.”

The landlord in 1954 was Reginald Walter Pond (born Barnet, Hertfordshire, 1908 – died Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, 1982) and his wife, Teresa May (nee Reilly) (born Portsmouth, Hampshire 1918 – died Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, 2006).
In April 1954, Reg Pond made the national papers with The Daily Mirror running an article on him being arrested for being drunk in charge of his own pub.
The West London Observer reported in more detail:
“A 45-year-old licensed victualler, Reginald Walter Pond, of the Finborough Arms, Finborough Road, Chelsea, was at West London on Monday fined 7/6d. and ordered to pay £5 5s. costs for being drunk and incapable of taking care of himself in his own public house.
Sgt. Edward Oram said he was outside the public house at 10.11p.m. when the licensee came out of the saloon bar. He nearly fell and put his arm against the wall. He then staggered over to the officer and when asked about money that had been reported stolen he replied, “It’s all right. I found it was in my safe.” The sergeant formed the opinion that the licensee was drunk.
Sgt. Oram added that after returning to the bar, Pond went upstairs to a room in which there where about 60 people. Several of them surrounded the licensee who began shouting and waving his arms about. When arrested, he replied, “I have had a few.”
A police surgeon said the licensee performed various tests reasonably well. He said he had been drinking fairly steadily since about 11a.m. and was alleged to have estimated drinking about 19 light ales. The doctor agreed that it was possible to be under the influence of drink without being drunk.
Denying the charge, Pond said he had been working since 6a.m. on this day because of a double wedding party at his public house. He had no time for breakfast or lunch, but did have a sandwich at about 5p.m. The only alcohol he had consumed had been a number of light ales. He was paid £30 by the wedding organisers and put the money, with other notes, in his wallet. He later put the wallet in his safe, but forgot that fact when he suddenly discovered it was not in his pocket. He told his wife, who unfortunately telephoned for the police. In the meantime, he had found the wallet in the safe.
Replying to his counsel, Pond said he did not think his gait was unsteady. It was possible he had put his arm on the police officer’s shoulder but it was not because he needed any support. He was busily engaged in calling “time” and turning his customers out when he was arrested. He had not been serious when he told the doctor he had had 19 light ales.
“I did not admit being drunk,” added the licensee. “I was under the influence of drink, but I was not drunk.”
Convicting Pond, the magistrate (Mr. E. R. Guest) said that whatever “drunk” might mean, he was quite satisfied the licensee was overcome by alcohol and was totally incapable of looking after himself.”

The landlord in April 1958 was Victor James Southwick (born Wandsworth 1915 – died Lewes, Sussex 1988), and his wife, Jean (born 1921 – died Appledore, Kent, 1984). After spending eighteen years working with the NAAFI providing food and drink for the armed forces, Vic spent just two months at the Finborough Arms. He left as he was picked to be the landlord of a “genuine” English pub, The Britannia Inn, at the 1958 Brussels World Fair, assisted by two English barmaids. By 1959, Vic and his wife were running The Gilbert and Sullivan pub in John Adam Street off the Strand where he displayed his extensive Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia collection. Shutterstock image library has a collection of photographs of Vic and Jean photographed in the Finborough Arms in February 1958, viewable here

The publicans in May 1970 were Bill Cummins (born County Offaly, Ireland) and his wife Eve, assisted by Tammy, the Jack Russell terrier.

In that month, the Kensington Post reported that: “Upstairs the ceilings are high, the seats comfortable, the carpets soft underfoot and the food at the bar extremely good.
Bill hails from County Ofley [sic] in the middle of Ireland and on Thursdays they put on a very special Irish bacon and cabbage dish. This is a traditional Irish dish the thought of which makes my mouth water; with gammon and cabbage cooked together and potatoes in their jackets flavoured by the juices.
They also serve other good things as well, like shepherds pie, steak and kidney pudding, pasties and sausages; and Eve will make up a fresh salad exactly to your taste. The maximum price of a Bar Lunch here is 5s. Extremely good value for money.
Downstairs is a new Cellar Bar, with alcoves to settle down in a plenty of room to manoeuvre if you go with a party!
One interesting feature of the Cellar Bar is the alcove on the left as you go downstairs. This used to be the place where the beer was delivered and now an ancient wooden barrel – a species becoming rare – is displayed behind some fine iron gates.
In the evening there are snacks at both the upstairs bar and in the cellar bar. Sauerkraut, frankfurters, hamburgers and toasted sandwiches as well as sausage rolls and sausages.”

The Finborough Arms in 1970.
The Finborough Arms advert, 1970.
Playing card, part of a set issued by Whitbread in May 1973.

The Finborough Theatre opened in 1980.

In April 1989, the pub was advertising itself as a new wine bar with live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and fine homemade cuisine.

In August 1994, Tim Harrison of the Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush Gazette reported that: “Neo-nazi skinheads chanting fascist slogans ambushed Chelsea fans in their local pub on the first day of the soccer season, smashing windows, bottles and glasses in a pitched battle which left four supporters in hospital with head wounds.
Police believe the attack was a planned retaliation for an incident six months ago in which a group of far right extremists were barred from the Finborough Arms, at the Brompton end of Finborough Road, for trying to sell racist newspapers.
Members of Combat 18, an offshoot of the British National Party which is through to have links with the notorious East London football hooligan gang the Inter-City Firm, are believed to be behind the incident.
Dozens of members of the Chelsea Independent Supporters Association (CISA) had spent lunchtime in the Finborough Arms before strolling to Stamford Bridge for their club’s first match of the new season.
Buoyed by Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Norwich, they returned to the all-day-opening pub shortly after 5pm. “The pub was packed; I was on the door, and by 5.15pm we couldn’t get any more in,” said landlord Philip Morgan, who has run the pub without any trouble for the past 16 months. Then all hell broke loose.
“A tidal wave of skinheads moved through the pub chanting ‘Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!’, and smashing everything; glasses, bottles, pool cues, leaded partition windows. It was a minute of sheer mayhem, then they ran; some heading to Fulham, others to Earls Court.”
Ross Fraser, chairman of the CISA, was one of the Chelsea fans injured in the attack, which began after several of the skinheads began picking on a girl known as ‘Commie Kim’, from Vauxhall, who was wearing an Anti-Nazi League badge. The thugs called her a ‘slag’ and then slapped her round the face, causing swelling and reddening. It seemed to be the signal the other thugs had been waiting for, because 15 skinheads wearing Doc Marten boots got to their feet and began overturning tables and smashing everything in sight. Customers dived over the bar to escape the mayhem.
The gang had drifted into the pub in ones and twos while the nearby football match was in progress, so as not to attract publican Philip Morgan’s attention.
Ross Fraser was one of three people taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for treatment to head wounds caused by broken glasses and bottles. He is lucky to still have the sight in one eye. “A table flew towards my head, and I put my arm up. U vaguely saw one person standing on the pool table throwing pool balls. I can remember seeing the expression on the face of an eight-year-old boy – screaming in terror,” he said. Ross needed six stitched in cuts to his face and head from glass. One shard scratched his cornea, and he only escaped being blinded in one eye by half an inch.
A second victim needed stitches in a neck gash which nicked his jugular, while a third man had 12 stitches in a gash to the back of his head, possibly caused by a bottle. A fourth man who was struck on the temple by a pool ball was taken to Charing Cross Hospital for treatment.
The CISA has a strong anti-racist reputation, and articles published in the fanzine it sells on home matchdays have in the past prompted letters addressed to the ‘n****r-loving’ editor.
There are fears that the attack may have been an attempt to blacken the name of Chelsea fans in their first season back in European competition for two decades.
“It was pre-planned violence,” added Mr Morgan. “they came here for one purpose, and one purpose alone.””
Later in 1994, the incident featured in a World In Action episode for ITV about football hooliganism and racism about the attack.

Other staff and managers of The Finborough Arms have included:
1991-1992 – John Gibson.
1993-1994 – Philip Morgan.
1995 – Sarah and Mark, who announced in the local press a reopening event on Thursday, 23 February 1995.
1996 – Sheila English.
1998-2001 – David Teakel.
2001-2002 – Jay Hindmarsh.

The pub was owned by Whitbread brewery until 2000, when it was purchased by Enterprise Inns who owned it until 2012. From 2012 until 2021, the building was owned by the late Dr Shelley Chopra (1970 – 2020).

The pub was closed from June 2002 to April 2003 for a major refurbishment including the removal of asbestos from the building.

Renamed ‘The Finborough’ 
2002-2006 – Joshua Reid

The pub lost its licence in 2006.
From the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Licensing Update:
“The Finborough Arms, SW10, applied for licences to allow it to serve customers until midnight, except on 15 occasions a year when its permitted hours could be extended by an hour with the consent of the police. In March this year an application to review the licence was made by the police after it was reported that the pub was operating beyond permitted hours. Many of these reports came from residents. Police visited the pub in May and found music, dancing and the sale of alcohol going on beyond permitted hours. As there was little or no control of customers, a closure notice was issued.
The matter was taken to the West London Magistrates’ Court two days after the police inspection and the Deputy District Judge ordered the pub to remain closed until the Licensing Authority (the Council) held a review hearing. Both reviews were heard on 22 May and resulted in the pub’s licences being revoked and the Designated Premises Supervisor being removed from the licence.”

With the exception of a few months in 2007 when it was run by Andrew Fay, the pub was then closed from May 2006 to February 2008.

Renamed ‘The Finborough Road Brasserie’
2008-2010 – Tracey Coles

The pub was closed for two months in the Summer of 2009, and then again from Summer to Autumn 2010.

Renamed ‘The Finborough Wine Cafe’
November 2010-21 September 2012 – Rob Malcolm and Monique Ziervogel

The Finborough Wine Cafe about 2010.

The pub was then closed from September 2012 to February 2014.

The name reverted back to The Finborough Arms
February 2014 – 27 May 2015 – Jeffrey John Bell, also landlord of The Gunmakers Arms, 13 Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell, London.

The Finborough Arms in winter circa 2009.

This article originally appeared on the Finborough Theatre website.
Compiled with thanks to Kevan at PubWiki, the late June Inskip, Nick Beale, Nick Hanham, and George Edward Uwins’s great-nephew, Cliff Uwins.

One thought on “The Finborough Arms History

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