View Full Version : World War Two pilots' pubs

26th Nov 2006, 16:48
Making my slow way through the vast body of WW2 RAF literature I find certain pubs feature a lot as the favourite haunts of pilots - the 'Trip to Jerusalem' in Nottingham, Shepherds in Mayfair and the 'White Hart' at Brasted spring immediately to mind. I also know of the 'Ferry Inn' at Horning where Bob Stanford Tuck narrowly avoided being killed by a bomb from a Dornier - several other occupants not being so lucky.

I've also recently read of the 'Star' in Maidstone, which was specific to pilots operating from Detling. And it's these 'station-specific' pubs I'm interested in. If ever I'm in a particular area - say, near a disused RAF airfield! - I would like to make a bit of a pilgrimage and raise a glass or two to their memory.

Anyone know of any?

Cheers! (hic)

Kev :ok:

26th Nov 2006, 17:38
I was in Shepherds after John Farley's lecture on Thursday - nice place, shame about some of the clientelle that particular evening (very noisy!). Sadly the White Hart is no longer what I think the pilots would recognise.

Be good to hear of some more...

26th Nov 2006, 18:48
The "Three Compasses" just to the south of Dunsfold used quite extensively by 98 squadron in 1943/44 (And by the Hawker/ British Aerospace test pilots 'till Dunsfold closed down)

27th Nov 2006, 03:14
the Cat & Custard Pot at Paddlesworth was a haunt for Hawkinge

27th Nov 2006, 11:01
Try The Eagle in Cambridge (Bene't Street, close to King's College)

27th Nov 2006, 14:43
My father was on 111 Sqn and 72 Sqn, Spitfires, 1941-42 at North Weald, Hornchurch and Biggin Hill. The pub he and his chums used to use was "The Jail", just behind one of the dispersals at Biggin. Seem to remember nipping in there in the mid-70s with him and my mother and he recognised a few of the bits and pieces that were still there.

No idea what it is like these days.


27th Nov 2006, 15:39
This the one?


Sorry, I don't know how to re-word links!

27th Nov 2006, 18:51
The John Barleycorn, Duxford (and another pub up the road in Sawston and another in Wilbraham); hell, there must have been hundreds in East Anglia!
The Chequers in Fowlmere, too.

27th Nov 2006, 20:15
The Jail Inn near Biggin is a great pub...

PPRuNe Towers
27th Nov 2006, 20:22
The Swan at Lavenham - signatures preserved on the wall and as far as he knows my dad is still barred.

Err, a little friction between 149 and the advance elements of the future 8th arriving at RAF Mildenhall.


PS Lavenham - a simply stunning 600 year old wool town always worth a visit.

27th Nov 2006, 20:30
Rob. I'm persuaded... soon I promise...!

27th Nov 2006, 21:09
Whilst flying out of Norwich in the mid 70's I used to visit "The Spread Eagle" located in Erpingham, it used to have some WW2 aircraft photos on the wall and was a great pub. Must have had a lot of RAF clientele with all the airfields around that area during the war. This is not meant to be an advert but you can find it here:

I just did a search and it is still there, funnily enough there is also another pub by the same name in Norwich.

28th Nov 2006, 19:32

Well, many of the 6 Group boys would have been familiar with Downham Market. The Crown was a regular Haunt.


So was the Castle.

I've been in both and well worth the visit.

28th Nov 2006, 20:36
Have you got a copy of
"Aeronautical Pubs & Inns of Britain"? ISBN 1 85780 048 6
Dave Smith & Ken Ellis
It a small book, under a tenner, but full of info.

30th Nov 2006, 12:35
What about the 'Marrowbone and Cleaver' in Kirmington Village close to the now Humberside Airport? Frequented by 144 squadron, Lancasters.

1st Dec 2006, 00:38
When stationed at Northolt I lived close by The Orchard in West Ruislip & Mrs B worked there in the evenings. Joe Kmiecik, who was flying Devons with 207 Sqn at the time, told me it was the Polish pilots' favourite hang out during the war years. Although it still looks much the same from the outside it is now unfortunately, a Bernie Inn and has lost most of its charm.

29th Jan 2011, 10:55

I have resurrected this thread due planning a trip, Easter or Summer. I've ordered a copy of the Smith and Ellis book, though I rather fear that with the dire situation affecting many UK pubs now, the information may, sadly, be out of date :(.

If anyone knows of any up-to-date info on pilots' pubs I'd be grateful for it. I'm thinking of heading up to Bomber Country.


29th Jan 2011, 11:09
The Hoops, Basssingbourn village was a favourite of B17 aircrew. It was also featured in the B of B film.

29th Jan 2011, 12:47
And have a look at this other thread (http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/354895-aviation-pubs.html) for some more...

31st Jan 2011, 21:44
The Saracens Head in Lincoln, sadly knocked down to make way for an extension to Marks & Sparks, I think.

Double Zero
5th Feb 2011, 15:43
Further to virgo's post of a while ago, I gained the impression that the 'Leathern Bottle' on the A281 was favoured by wartime aircrew, the other ranks favouring the closer Three Compasses.

The Three Compasses is still doing well, but the Leathern bottle is now a house.

Airfield staff also frequented what was the 'Hawk and Harrier', one of 2 or 3 pubs in Dunsfold Village - as Hawkers had an account for staff above a certain ( quite low ) level to have lunches there; they were charged from their wages on a genteel monthly set-up.

When this account was closed by BAe, the pub sign was changed in about 2 seconds ! Don't know what it's original name was, last I saw years ago was something awful like 'Rumpoles' but there is/ was a much better place nearby.

None of the Dunsfold village pubs had any memorabillia when I last saw them - they're actually a bit of a drive from the airfield - but the Three Compasses has a fair bit, mostly post-war though.

I don't know what's being done about it, but a few WWII Veterans of the airfield had assembled a lot of relevant - largely B-25 - material in a portacabin on the airfield, with hopes of a small museum; as Dunsfold Park keep getting their property development plans refused ( excellent ! ) they were pretty sulky about aviation when I last dealt with them.

caped crusader
5th Feb 2011, 16:23
Check out the Horse & Jockey in Waddington village. Favourite watering hole of the Australians during WWII.

Has some photos that cover WWII and V-Force era. There is a framed print of 467 RAAF Sqn's Op Order for Friday 13th 1945. They weren't flying that evening so they put out an Op Order for their pub run that night.

Covers the Horse & Jockey, Prince of Wales and Assembly Rooms, all still in existence. Also included in the list is brakedwell's Saracen's Head. Known as the Snakepit and referred to in Guy Gibson's Enemy Coast Ahead as a meeting place around about the time of the 'Battle of the Hats'.

It is now occupied by Waterstones, opposite HSBC Bank. There is a blue placque nearby commemmorating its existence.

9th Feb 2011, 07:44
The Woodman at Nuthampstead. In the middle of nowhere almost, but almost on the edge of what was once the Nuthampstead airfield.

Nuthampstead was home to the 398th bomb wing, and hosted 3 squadrons ( 601,602 and 603) of B17s. P38s and P47s also flew from there.

The EAA's B17, "Aluminum overcast" which flies out of Appleton giving rides over the Oshkosh show, is painted up to represent a Nuthampstead based aeroplane.

Lovely memorial stone outside and some extraordinary photos inside. One stunning photo of a B17 that flew back after being hit over the target by flak, and lost it's nose is iconic and well-known. I met the 2 pilots at a reunion of the 398th at the airfiled nearly 25 years ago. I took them for a short flight around in a 172. The skipper didn't fly again after the war, he became a lawyer. The co-pilot had retired at 60, having been a Captain with Eastern airlines, A300s I seem to recall. Fabulous old boys; meeting them was a humbling experience.

Good little country pub. Great ham, egg and chips and good beer too, for those that don't fly in to Nuthampstead of course!


12th Mar 2011, 22:23
Thanks to all your replies, XV490's thread, Google and the Smith/Ellis book, I now have a list of pubs that are "going-concerns" in southern East Anglia. The Swan, Lavenham and The Woodman, Nuthampstead stand out, as having significant history, food and accomodation. Somewhere to lay my head for the night, within staggering distance of the pub, is a pre-requisite essential!

Must admit though, I'd like to find a cosy watering-hole that was maybe half-a-mile from the dispersals, that isn't caught up in its 15th century history and gourmet food :rolleyes:.

12th Mar 2011, 22:33
White Hart at Brasted was still recognisable as a pub when I went there in 1977, being temporarily at RAF Biggin Hill at the time.

Nowadays it isn't.....:( See White Hart - Brasted, Westerham - Pubs (http://www.qype.co.uk/place/339445-White-Hart-Brasted) ....

12th Mar 2011, 23:06
I know, Beags. Went there a couple of years back after the Biggin Air Fair (of blessed memory :*) - a nasty pubco eatery. To be fair, it does do photographic justice to the station but the pub itself bears no relation to the homely images I've seen in the old books.