Decent pubs? In Charlton? Can it be so?

DECEMBER 2014: If you’ve been directed to this post by Vito Marino’s Facebook or Twitter activity, please be aware that the Save The White Swan working group’s official website is here – You can also find it on Facebook – Save the White Swan SE7!. The campaign has made it clear it is not looking for money at present – see the working group’s statement on Vito Marino. Other websites do not represent the working group and are soliciting money for Marino’s personal PayPal account.

Let’s face it, nobody moves to Charlton for the nightlife. SE7 isn’t exactly blessed with wonderful pubs. There’s only eight left and few go out of their way to tempt you inside. Trade is skewed by fortnightly football crowds and social clubs compete for their business (the neighbouring Conservative and Liberal Clubs defy the times by doing alright for themselves).

But there’s a few signs of life. The riverside secret that’s the Anchor and Hope has regular live music and seems to be thriving. There’s new people at the Royal Oak trying to bring it back to life after a disastrous refurbishment. The Antigallican has gained a restaurant in the back. But now, most audaciously… a pub revamp in Charlton Village?

Yup, the White Swan. I’ve been there a few times, and wonder how good it would be if someone gave the place a wipe-down. It felt and smelled like a pub that’d already closed. Somehow, that was part of its charm – but beyond the admirably rubbish Friday night karaoke sessions, it was obvious that there was some potential there. Especially with its decent-sized back garden, a perfect place to hide on a summer’s day.

Finally, someone’s seen it – it’s been taken on by a chap called Vito, and he’s torn out the worn-out carpet, taken down the scaffolding in the back garden and is hard at work transforming the place. A coffee machine’s gone in, there’s wine and plans for yoga classes (!) in an upstairs room. Innovation unheard of in Charlton. And even the promise of… yummy mummies? Good heavens. If you want to know more, the White Swan’s Facebook page has more details.

Charlton Village has certainly struggled over the years, which is a shame – it’s sometimes called the only true village in London (on account of the street being called “The Village”), but it’s certainly down-at-heel when compared with its posher neighbour in Blackheath. Many of the everyday shops have gone, although the Co-Op’s improved over the past few years, and there’s no real advocates for Charlton compared with the loud voices promoting and worrying about various parts of Greenwich and Blackheath.

Hopefully the new-look Swan will give the old place a much-needed lift – if the new guv’nor gets wi-fi in, I can add it to my little list of local “offices” to get some work done in…


  1. I live in Charlton but I wouldn’t go into the White Swan on account of the clientele. Wasn’t that the pub that a local resident was drinking in when he was chased out and murdered by homophobes? Also, whenever I go past (which is almost every day), there seem to be unpleasant-looking people hanging around. Do you think the clientele has changed, with the new landlord Darryl?

  2. Also, meant to say, I am a fan of Charlton Village as it is – no Starbucks or Costa is an advantage as far as I’m concerned. I like the fact that there is a dressmaking shop, a nice little shop selling fish and amphibians (and fishfood etc.), a homoeopathic chemist, a flower shop, dry cleaner’s, barber’s and now a new dental surgery. All on my doorstep.

  3. Slightly out of Charlton, but I notice that someone has attacked the Sun in the Sands pub with 2 or 3 pots of white paint. Gives the outside the slight air of a low quality student art installation.

  4. I also live at that top part of charlton Steve and dont normally set foot in the pub because of some of the characters outside but have been in to have a nose. Its got its work cut out thats for sure and I’m not sure there’s enough money behind the new tenant to make vast improvements but we can all live in hope as its badly needed. So im willing Vito on in his new crusade!

  5. I was given a cup of coffee (instant) for 50p when I urgently needed a toilet on a recent visit to Charlton Village. That’s one up for the White Swan. Also I noticed in the village the little shoe shop which must have been there for 60 or 70 years – well 50 anyway.

  6. I popped in for a drink on Monday. Vito came over for a chat, possibly because we were the only customers not fighting with pool cues at the time. He was really friendly, very positive and has the right ideas, but I think Brenda’s right; without the substantial sums needed to transform the pub, he’ll struggle to attract new (bluntly:different) customers. Go and support him, but don’t get your expectations too high just yet.

  7. […] The White Swan might have pretensions to being a nicer pub these days – but while the tatty carpet has been ripped out and olives placed on the bar, we got grief for buying our female friends pints instead of “ladies’ drinks”. To do up a pub is one thing, but to end up winding the clock back to 1971 is another. In fact, with these leering idiots and bare floors, the place felt more unwelcoming than it had done when it was a grimier boozer. The upside is that it’s open until midnight and that the new boss seems a nice guy, but I don’t think we got off to a brilliant start after that welcome from his customers. […]

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