Pubs and Night Life

  • Subject: Oral History
A crowd of middle aged white men in a pub

Recalling the lively pubs of the past and the places you can enjoy a night out today, including Carter’s, Gold Coast, The Jolly Sailor, John’s Jam Nights at The Conservative Club, and more.

In this audio you can hear Renee, Mick, Freda, John, Marion and Ian.

This audio is 8 minutes and 35 seconds long.”



Renee: South Norwood has definitely changed a lot. I would definitely say for Portland Road and the High Street, the types of businesses that we have as well. So, one of the staples for me that I grew up in terms of the businesses in South Norwood, is the Jolly Sailor that many people know. So, I grew up in The Jolly Sailor before this management and the management before it, there was a lady called Sandy and her partner Brian, and they used to have a little golden retriever called Sailor. And it was, you know, it was everybody’s pet, it was the pub pet. And yeah, I grew up in that pub. I drew my first pint in there. I learned how to draw a pint and the karaoke nights, the Christmases that we spent in there, when you’d have good old Barney dressed up as Santa Claus and everybody comes to sit on his lap and everything, and you’d get your presents. I think South Norwood’s Jolly Sailor is one of, yeah, one of the most important historic sites for me. It’s a massive building. I mean, and all the pubs, to be fair, in South Norwood, are really important to me. I think because as time has gone on, we’ve lost a lot of those types of social spaces that allow for people to kind of connect and allow for communities to engage in the best way possible. 

Renee: So, for me, yeah, those are the things that are most important. You know, you’ve got the Jolly sailor, we’ve got The Albion, and you had The Ship. I remember when we had the Goat House pub at the top of the road, and now it’s gone, now it’s a block of flats, but I still remember how big it used to be. You know, the beautiful flowers that we used to run around in. It had a massive car park that we could all kind of play in, and it was those type of spaces that, for me, were really important to the community because it brought people together and allowed them to engage. You know, there are older people in the community who don’t have that opportunity to come to those social spaces. I feel like as much anymore. So, for me, it was really important as a young person, somebody who got to engage with older people, like I learned how to respect them as well. I learned how to see things from different people’s perspectives, and I feel like without those spaces, you just miss out on those types of interactions.

Renee: So, The Ship. The Ship is awesome as well, The Ship had used to have a beautiful space, actually. The front of the pub was quite big and then you’d go down the steps and there was a massive, big part as well, where all the pool tables were and all the dancing spaces were, and they had a beautiful garden space as well. So, the ship was actually a really good pub. The Albion we never went into, apparently the pints were too expensive. The Wetherspoons used to be really nice as well, that’s where you could go in South Norwood and get something really nice to eat with your family as well.

Mick: We used to go to the Queen’s, that now ended up as The Two Bobbies, the two Bobby Smith’s and Bobby Smith. One of the Bobby Smith’s had South Norwood Glazing and there was two sons who got that, Darren and Nicky. You had the Greyhound. You had, which is now the Gold Coast, used to be the Spread Eagle, which was where me dad used to drink, and we used to sit out on the step with a bag of crisps and a Coke or lemonade.  He also used to have an off licence next to it.

Freda: We go to Gold Coast all the time. And Gold Coast has been there since…Yeah, I think Gold Coast used to be a pub or some…, yes and then it’s changed hands and it’s been there since 2000, 1990, I think 2000, I believe. It’s still there and I still visited every now and then. Oh, Gold Coast is fun. Yes. We have live bands on Sundays. I encourage people to visit there and then, when you are stressed, you can go there and destress yourself. And on Friday nights we can go there and dance. Dance your troubles away and on Saturday. So, I visit them Sunday, Friday and Saturday. Almost, maybe twice a month or three times a month, and then I go there and eat as well, have lunch and dinners. I love Gold Coast.

Freda: Everywhere is busy. We have things going on. You can go from one pub to the other and then have a look. If you are thinking of moving in South Norwood, it’s the best place to come, I believe.

Mick: My son was oh, he must have been about 19, and, he was in that time, the Queens. That then was The Two Bobbies. Somebody dared him to do the full Monty, which he did, run down South Norwood high street and then went back.

John: Next to Stanley Arts is a social club. We had all this equipment stored upstairs from playing in bands. We had everything that we needed and in lockdown one of my friends in the office said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we run a jam night in South Norwood? Because it’s quiet, you know, not much is happening throughout lockdown”. So, it would be nice to get into, do something, get back into it. And I said, “Well, I’ve got all the equipment that we need”. So, we went up there and we tested all the equipment and then put on Facebook that we were holding a jam night and my friend, funny she didn’t want it called after herself said, “Let’s call it John’s Jam”. So, it’s actually, last month was the two-year anniversary so Facebook told me.  But anyway, the first one was great. I think there was loads of musicians in the same position as ourselves that were just dying to get out there and play music and do something. I think we had about twenty, thirty musicians turn up on the first night and that was good. And it’s just grown since then.


Marion: On a Friday we’d go into The Cherry Trees. 

Tamara (Interviewer): What was that like there? 

Marion: I like live music and they used to have bands come in and play. We’d go in for a couple before I went home. Everyone was all smartly dressed, going out for Friday and I had my old clothes on, covered in sawdust, no makeup. I said, “Can’t we go home first?” He said, “If you went home, you wouldn’t want to turn round and go out again”, he said, “We’re only having a couple. They all know you”. Often customers or other people and then the band would walk in and set up. “We’ll just see what they’re like?” And then a taxi home, then a taxi back into the shop in the morning and then he’d pick his car up. That’s probably it, sometimes there was an eatery that we’d go in, of a lunch time, maybe if it was that someone came to visit me, fresh out of the pet shop, you know. “Can we have lunch?” and I’d go “Yes”. Then I’d get someone to cover me.  I didn’t have a lot of social time, I was too busy being social in the shop

Stan (Interviewer): What about nightlife? Was there ever a time when there was like a nightclub in the area or anything like that?

Ian: Well, it’s a bit of a weird one because you’ve got Trude’s down the road. That was a pub and now it’s a thing and now that opens late at night. But I’ve not experienced it. But you never hear any trouble. Do you know what I mean? You know, I mean, there’s never you know, all I know is the people have gone in there and it’s very expensive, but, you know, and it’s like down the High Street, you’ve got a couple of, they’re not bars, they’re lounges they call them, you know. But I don’t, you know, I don’t hear about a massive load of trouble in the area lately, you know, or for some time. So, I think the more time there’s trouble is if there’s away fans, you know, and they get away from the police, you’ve got more worry about that on a match day. 

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit

Image Credit: Crystal Palace fans in The Cherry Trees pub, Station Road, 29 April 2000 © Paul Wright

A crowd of middle aged white men in a pub

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