Barking & Dagenham Local History

Where History Is In The Past

Red Lion, North Street, Barking



"The Lion Roars No More"



With regards to the report of the closure of the Red lion in North Street. This I'm afraid is just a sign of the times, especially in regions like Barking, Ilford etc. The change in population is one whereby the local residents do not utilise public houses, many are Muslim. Other factors include: the no smoking ban, rising drink prices, and the fact that many people now drink and smoke at home.


The Red Lion building itself, is not ancient. It was pulled down and rebuilt in 1898, in a process of around 7 months. However, as fabrics in Barking go this is old! A 'Redd Lyon' existed in North Street in 1609, and it is likely that the early 17th century structure was on this site.


The inside of the present building is large with plenty of room, and in February 1965, 'The Berkynge Folk Club' opened and was hosted in the Red Lion, being the towns first such club. By the following year it boasted an 800 membership. One electric-folk legend 'Al Stewart' played the club. I have a track of his on this website for those interested.


In spite of this membership, the club was soon closed the same year. It resurfaced in this pub again in the early 1970s as, 'The Toad Hall Folk Club', and folk stars Johnny Silvo and Alex Cambell played it.


A few years later, in 1974, the power-cuts under Heath government took hold. My brother tells the tale that he remembers going into the ‘Lion’ during one, “There was no electric and the place was lit by candles, and there was a lady on piano, doing Mrs Mills type songs, #Roll Out The Barrel etc. It was reminiscent of scenes that must have taken place over 30 years earlier during the Blitz.”


In a pub survey in July 1987 the Red Lion was described like, '... being down on the farm, because it's like a barn.'  Entertainment though, was still provided in the evenings. I have been in there on a few occasions since 1971, and there has never been many customers, sometimes it was totally empty apart from the bar staff. It comes as no surprise to me that this is closing, and being transmogrified into flats. The facade I understand will be kept... for what that is worth!






                                                  Red Lion in 2007 (I. Vickers, 2008)