Technically, this is my local – The Valley, which has sat in Elliscombe Road, Charlton for over 40 years. It’s only an estate pub, but it was my grandad’s local, and was fondly remembered by Charlton fans who went there for a pre-match pint. I remember it having a decent beer garden when I was little. It was opened in the mid-1960s by former Charlton and England winger Harold Hobbis, who was its first landlord. The last time I was in there, it still had an impressive picture of The Valley (the ground) inside, from the days when Hobbis was working his way to being one of the club’s all-time top goalscores.
I used it a bit when I moved here, but it went downhill shortly afterwards when it changed hands – I remember popping in to watch football on TV, finding my pint of Guinness tasting like it’d come from the sewer and the match switched off at half-time so the bar staff could watch Blind Date on TV. It was like that.
The pub closed last summer – apparently there was a robbery – and has remained “closed until further notice” since. The chances of it ever reopening are very slim indeed. A few years back a planning application to turn the site into flats was rejected, new plans are now before Greenwich Council to build nine flats here.
It’s a shame to see it go – it’d seen better days but as a building it could be a great asset to the community. The local estates have to use meeting rooms and community facilities that are like cupboards – here, the pub is bright and airy, and the days of smoky bars are long gone. Moving some of these into the building might encourage people from the estates and the rest of us to mix a bit – there’s a real social divide here, with the estates (literally) looking inwards and the rest of us just seeing blocks of flats. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have thought about trying to keep it going, and it looks like it’ll go. In a week when beer duty’s gone up yet again, helping push more pubs to the wall, it’s worth remembering places like The Valley – and trying to think of ways of keeping them afloat.