Fellowship & Star

Greater London South East - Catford

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

Randlesdown Road
Catford, Bellingham
SE6 3BT

Tel: (020) 7138 1084

Email: info@fellowshipandstar.co.uk

Website http://www.fellowshipandstar.co.uk/

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: Bellingham

Station Distance: 50m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Bellingham) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This pub was added to the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors for the quality of several surviving rooms which are in very poor condition and are not open to the public. This includes a theatre. Just one room is open to the public. Happily a local community group has received a £4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the building. Work should start shortly with reopening some time in 2018. The Fellowship Inn is an ‘improved’ public house built in 1923-4 by F.G. Newnham, the house architect of the brewery Barclay Perkins and Co. It was built as part of the London County Council’s Bellingham Estate. Newnham also designed other pubs on LCC estates for the brewery including the Downham Tavern in 1930 – the largest public house in Britain but sadly now demolished. Due to pressure from the temperance movement the LCC was wary of building, or allowing brewers to build, pubs on their suburban estates so when it did agree they were designed along ‘improved’ lines with the provision of community facilities such as halls, games rooms and refreshment rooms, and referred to as ‘refreshment houses’. In c1926 an additional storey was added to the rear hall creating an upper lounge and refreshment area and in 1927 a children's room (a controversial feature of 'improved' pubs) was added in the lounge area. It is built of brick with tall brick chimneys and has two storeys plus attic and basement in a half-timbered ‘Brewers' Tudor’ style. The Inn’s sign was painted by Sir Arthur Cope, member of the Royal Academy.

This pub has been added to the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors for the quality of several surviving rooms which are in very poor condition and are not open to the public. This includes a theatre. Just one room is open to the public.

The Fellowship Inn is an ‘improved’ public house built in 1923-4 by F.G. Newnham, the house architect of the brewery Barclay Perkins and Co. It was built as part of the London County Council’s Bellingham Estate. Newnham also designed other pubs on LCC estates for the brewery including the Downham Tavern in 1930 – the largest public house in Britain but sadly now demolished. Due to pressure from the temperance movement the LCC was wary of building, or allowing brewers to build, pubs on their suburban estates so when it did agree they were designed along ‘improved’ lines with the provision of community facilities such as halls, games rooms and refreshment rooms, and referred to as ‘refreshment houses’. In c1926 an additional storey was added to the rear hall creating an upper lounge and refreshment area and in 1927 a children's room (a controversial feature of 'improved' pubs) was added in the lounge area. It is built of brick with tall brick chimneys and has two storeys plus attic and basement in a half-timbered ‘Brewers' Tudor’ style. The Inn’s sign was painted by Sir Arthur Cope, member of the Royal Academy.

The only room in use is the saloon bar on the right-hand side which was originally a lounge and smoke room at the front and dining room at the rear. This spacious room retains its entrance lobby screen with leaded transoms and original doors, stone Tudor-arched fire surround, two dumb waiters, folding screen to the rear hall. The central servery bar counter is original and the bar back also appears to be original (some fridges added). A transom with leaded lights and carved Tudor rose decoration divide the servery. Behind the servery is a small panelled publican’s office with leaded glazing to the public bar. The room is in three areas with shelves on a couple of pillars evenly spaced in the room. The very open screens and the pot shelf over the counter are modern work but affect the character little (it is said the shelves on the 'screens' may have served to display items: a former landlord was a Laurel & Hardy fanatic and plastered the pub with memorabilia about them). Throughout the whole of the room is original fielded panelling to picture frame height on the walls. The ladies and gents off the saloon bar have original terrazzo floors but otherwise modernised.

On the left is a panelled division beyond which is the public bar but this is currently out of use and only used as a store. It retains a large entrance lobby screen, original dado of fielded panelling, and a marble, brick interior and wood surround fireplace. The bar counter is original but boarded up above counter level. There is some fixed seating that looks more like it dates from the 1960s The gents at the rear retains its original floor to ceiling glazed white bricks and three large urinals.

Down a passage from the public bar, also accessible from the rear of the saloon bar through a folding screen is a huge function room, also out of use. This is the original rear lounge, (referred to as a ballroom and used as such into the 1960s) but in a very poor state. It has lost most of its original fittings and has had a suspended ceiling inserted, although the original skylights remain. The stage at the eastern end is modern, some seating that looks like it dates from the 1960s, and although elements of the servery are original, it mainly dates from the 1960s and has a back fitting labelled “Courage”, “Fellowship Inn Discotheque”. In the centre of the hall is a circular timber, well-like structure. This covers one of the two plastered-over original sky-lights of the single-storey hall and probably dates to the 1920s. The other is no longer present. To the west of the lounge is the separate children's room. The room contains a well-kept full sized snooker table.

Until the late 1960s the large hall at the rear of the pub was used as a music venue and was part of the London Jazz, and then blues-boom, scenes. In 1963, prior to his fight with Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali), Henry Cooper was reported in a Sports Illustrated article, dated 1 July 1963, to be living and training at the Fellowship Inn – his parents lived close-by in Bellingham Road. It seems unlikely that this amounted to more than light training and there is no evidence that the pub was ever equipped as a boxing gym. Cooper's main training base was at the Thomas A Becket on the Old Kent Road. This former refreshment or games room hosted discos until the 1970s but after then both this and the hall fell into disuse and disrepair.

On the lower level being part of the housing estate at the rear at the end of Knapmill Street is the timber shop front of the off-sales, with boarded replacements to the original doors and plate glass display windows. It still retains its original serving counter, and bar back shelving, internal leaded glazing and glass globe lamp fitting – the room is as big as some public bars! In the two rooms that form the cellars there is a lift and also a mechanical bottle disposal machine – empty bottles are placed in a chute and drop down to the cellar where they lay on a large metal container prior to being placed into cases. To the left of the off sales shop is the entrance to the lower hall.

The lower hall main entrance lobby retains its original doors and entrance screen and monochrome floor tiling. There is an Admission Box in the foyer which survives as does the cloakroom fittings. There is also a smaller lobby in the north-east corner. The hall has a coffered concrete ceiling and elements of classical decoration including marble-effect wooden columns around the walls. The original parquet flooring survives and the hall has cinema seating of uncertain date (over a hundred) that lean backwards (as the floor does not have a slope like most cinemas). The stage at the eastern end is virtually disintegrated having been damaged by fire. The original servery with its roller shutters, screen to the entrance lobby, elements of the dado panelling, doors and arched metal-framed windows all survive. A customer can remember this was a venue for pop groups in the 1960s including Fleetwood Mac. Later it was a venue for Bingo.

Update 2014: Now owned by Phoenix Community Housing who have been granted £3.8 million Heritage Lottery funding to restore the pub which will see the lower rear hall brought back into use as a cinema and a cafe, microbrewery, bakery and artists' studio added; the present bar will be 'carefully restored'. Sources: The National Heritage List for England Entry 1413050; http://transpont.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/fellowship-inn.html

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