Festival Inn

Greater London East - Poplar

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

71 Grundy Street
Poplar
E14 6AD

Tel: (020) 7987 1555

Nearby Station: Limehouse

Station Distance: 1700m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Limehouse)

View on: Whatpub

A very rare and intact post-war pub, built in 1951/52, built before new pub-building got going again after the Second World War. It takes its name from the Festival of Britain held in 1951 as a British pick-me-up in an austerity-ridden country. It still has its separate public and saloon bars and even the off-sales remains intact (but disused). It is situated at the rear entrance to the Chrisp Street Market, the first purpose-built UK pedestrian shopping area which features a prominent clock tower, shops, small retail outlets, cafes, 80 market stalls and apartments. It was designed by Frederick Gibberd, architcet of the RC cathedral in Liverpool and Harlow New Town. The development forms part of the Lansbury Estate which in 1948 was chosen as the site of the ‘Live Architecture’ Exhibition of the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1997 Chrisp Street Market was made a Conservation Area – see http://moderngov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=7768 which, sadly, does not mention the Festival Inn.

A very rare and intact post-war pub, built in 1951/52, built before new pub-building got going again after the Second World War. It takes its name from the Festival of Britain held in 1951 as a British pick-me-up in an austerity-ridden country. It still has its separate public and saloon bars and even the off-sales remains intact (but disused). It is situated at the rear entrance to the Chrisp Street Market, the first purpose-built UK pedestrian shopping area which features a prominent clock tower, shops, small retail outlets, cafes, 80 market stalls and apartments. It was designed by Frederick Gibberd, architcet of the RC cathedral in Liverpool and Harlow New Town. The development forms part of the Lansbury Estate which in 1948 was chosen as the site of the ‘Live Architecture’ Exhibition of the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1997 Chrisp Street Market was made a Conservation Area – see http://moderngov.towerhamlets.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=7768 which, sadly, does not mention the Festival Inn.

It is a three-storey building of yellow stock brick with a flat-roofed single-storey section on the Grundy Street side faced with tiles (now painted cream), the rear section of the building being part of the shops. The pub was built for Trumans (Black Eagle) Brewery and on both the south and north faces are (white painted) plaster roundels of Trumans' eagle. The front inn sign has a festival scene on the south face and the symbol of the Festival of Britain on the north. By the public bar entrance is a faded simple ‘The Festival Inn Trumans Ales’ inn sign. The exterior windows appear to be original Crittall ones.

The saloon bar, situated on the Grundy Street side with half of it in the flat-roofed part of the building, has a wooden floor. The plan as published in 'The Builder' for August 1951 and shows a tiny partition that linked the bar counter to the fireplace; otherwise it is intact. The bar counter has a front of three sections – on the left and right it is made of wood with grid pattern parquetry and along the top part is a brass panel – the central section is of 1950s style vertical panels. The bar top has a protruding section in the middle which houses a lift used to transport crates from the cellar and to return empties (no longer in use). The back fitting is mirrored with glass shelves. There is a dumb waiter to the first floor. Look for the attractive door to the left of the counter giving access for the bar staff and to the private quarters - it is very much of its time with its large glass panel surrounded by narrow panels in a geometric design.

On the walls are various types of panelling to two-thirds height on both sides of the servery. There is an alcove on the right with a large radiator. Note also the fixed seating (recently reupholstered) with triangular wooden and brass divisions topped by large cylindrical pillars. There are two entrances to the saloon – a corner one on the right and on the left a vestibule with glazed partition on the bar side with the ladies’ toilet leading off to the rear. There is a chimney piece rising from the centre of the saloon bar (but no fireplace now). Toilets modernised.

There is a separate entrance to the public bar. This has a linoleum floor, another bar counter of wood with parquetry in a grid pattern and along the top part is a brass panel: mirrored bar-back fitting with glass shelves. There is an office shown in plan displayed on the right-hand side of the servery. There is much wood panelling Above the fireplace is a mirror with the 1951 Festival of Britain symbol. Toilets modernised.

There is a (disused) door to the left of that to the public bar one to the former off-sales. It retains its counter, back fitting, glazed display case and has the figure ‘3’ above the inside of the front door. At quiet times it is possible for staff to show you the off-sales from within the servery.

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