Category Archives: London

Pirates, Plundering & Pints at the Captain Kidd 

Close to what was once Execution Dock, along the Thames from the City of London, stands a public house dedicated to one the most famous and fearsome pirates of his time, Captain William Kidd, a man who many say suffered an almighty miscarriage of justice.

In 1702, Kidd, a seafaring Scotsman who later settled in Boston, was charged with murder and five counts of piracy and was hanged in chains by the River Thames. His body was then left hanging in the sun and the surf for three tides (days and nights) so that the tidal river could completely submerge his cadaver. Then, as a gruesome warning to other would be pirates and plunderers, Kidd’s rotting corpse was left on display further along the Thames for the next 3 years.

Captain Kidd, pirate, pub, Wapping, London, Execution Dock, hangman's noose
Captain Kidd was hanged at nearby Execution Dock

In Kidd’s defence, his murder charge involved a shipmate who was hit over the head with a metal bucket. And those charges of piracy? Well, Kidd set sail as a legitimate trader and keeper of the peace in the Atlantic and Caribbean with orders from politicians, landed gentry and royalty to hunt pirates. It was agreed that Kidd would not be paid for his efforts but could keep the profits of his plundering.

Let’s just say that his background recruitment checks were a little lax and perhaps his crew were not all saintly seafarers. What’s a Kidd to do eh?

Mutiny, betrayal and skulduggery ensued before Kidd was sent to London to stand trial. Despite requests for clemency from the man many believe originally gave Kidd his orders, King William III (aka William of Orange), his pleas fell on deaf ears and Kidd was sentenced to death and was duly hanged at Execution Dock in front of a crowd of Londoners baying for buccaneer blood.

Today, a Sam Smith’s pub stands in his honour close to the point by the Thames where he met his maker at Execution Dock. There are low ceilings, small cosy booths and bountiful food options available at very reasonable prices.

The Captain Kidd will gladly sell you a pint of their own India Pale Ale for far less than a fiver. As pub prices in London go, that’s hardly piracy and the views from the beer terrace across the river make it a treasure well worth hanging around for.

Captain Kidd, 108 Wapping High St, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 2NE

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The Prospect of Whitby: Welcome to London’s Oldest Riverside Pub 

Founded in 1520 during the time of King Henry VIII, the Prospect of Whitby lays claim to be London’s oldest riverside pub.

Although the original building burnt down in the 18th century, pints were being poured on the site of Wapping’s Prospect of Whitby 146 years before the Great Fire of London. 

Prospect of Whitby, London, oldest pub, River Thames
View of the pub from the River Thames

Where once smugglers and fishermen brought ashore their bounty, today the Prospect of Whitby’s riverside setting makes it a popular destination for today’s bankers and high financiers from across the water at Canary Wharf

The Thameside pub was originally known as the Pelican and later the Devil’s Tavern, owing to it’s salubrious history of close to 500 years of patronage by smugglers, thieves, politicians and pirates. The Prospect of Whitby is reckoned to have been named after a ship of the same name that regularly docked beside the pub. 

In whatever guise, the Prospect of Whitby has survived the reigns of several Kings and Queens of England including each of your King Jameses, all your King Georges and Charleses and both of your Queen Elizabeths. 

From the Great Fire and the Black Death to the Napoleonic wars and the 2 World Wars and one World Cup of the 20th Century, many years of murder, death and macabre misadventures have characterised this unique establishment. 

The pub is believed to have played host to Captain Kidd who met his end at nearby Execution Dock. Hanged for murder and piracy, his body was left hanging in chains for the next 3 years as a decomposing warning to anyone entering London’s Docklands. Indeed the infamous “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys, known for his eagerness to match fellons with their maker, regularly enjoyed the view across to Rotherhithe prior to his capture by the mob and death at the Tower of London.

Captain Kidd, Execution Dock, London, Prospect of Whitby, hanging
Captain Kidd met his end at nearby Execution Dock

Public executions were once a popular pass time akin to a spectator sport in London, and Wapping’s Execution Dock was up there with the Tyburn Tree as one of the city’s great venues for a gallows. Aside from providing refreshment for the public at hangings, the Prospect of Whitby also played host to bloody bare-knuckle boxing bouts.

Prospect of Whitby, oldest pub, London, gallows, noose
Have I got noose for you?

Today, the pub’s long pewter bar serves pale ale hopped by ingredients unimaginable to guests of yore like Dickens, Pepys and many of the ghosts that may or may not shiver the Prospect’s timbers. Legend has it that the more pints a punter purchases, the more likely a spectre is to reveal himself to the merry imbiber. 

Beers from local Woolwich craft brewers Hop Stuff are served to tourists and locals next to impressive views of the Thames from the pub’s several beer terraces and function rooms. 

Hop Stuff, craft beer, IPA, India Pale Ale, Renegade, Prospect of Whitby, London, brewery
Hop Stuff’s Renegade IPA

The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is a monument to London’s gruesome history as a great tidal dock and a great place for a pint by the riverside.

The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London, E1W 3SH

Sartorial Soccer: The Art of the Football Shirt

ARTISTRY, FLAMBOYANCE & FLAIR were on display on London’s Brick Lane as the Old Truman Brewery played host to a celebration of football shirt culture.

The Art of the Football Shirt, a pop-up exhibition from Jacket Required, delivered a gloriously nostalgic trip through football’s flirtation with graphic design and fashion, whilst looking at the game in it’s social context and place in popular culture.

Juventus, Napoli, Sampdoria, Style, football, culture, art, design
Classic Italian styling

From the elegant cut and slim stripes of classic 80s and 90s Italian styling to garish efforts from Japan and Mexico, curator Neal Heard explored football’s relationship with music, politics, fashion and design.

Football, politics, East Germany, CCCP, St Pauli, Fiorentina, Che Guevara, Stockport County

In an age of Nike led functional uniformity, where Chelsea’s away strip is just a shade away from Tottenham’s home kit, the collection reminds us of times where football shirts were bespoke creations embracing graphic design and inspiring streetwise fashion labels.

For those attending the two-day exhibit, the items on display transcended sportswear and were more akin to religious artefacts. On entry, visitors were treated to a view of eleven of the game’s most iconic designs.

Football, art, design, culture, kit, England 1966, West Germany 1990, Brazil, Milan, Celtic, Argentina, classic
The Art of the Football Shirt’s most iconic designs

There was the instantly recognisable rose-red 1966 England World Cup winners shirt. Unsullied by corporate sponsorship, the triumphant top is burned into our collective consciousness even if Bobby and the boys lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy many years before our births.

We wistfully admired the classic West Germany shirt from Italia 1990. A classic from Adidas’ heyday and a shirt so good that even sworn rivals acknowledge it was a bit special.

The brilliant orange of the Dutch 1988 European Championships winners, Denmark’s Mexico ’86 Hummel humdinger, the light blue and white of Argentina and the Brazil 1970 shirt that brought Pele and  joga bonito to the world’s attention in vivid technicolor. All iconic international strips, all rightfully held in the highest of esteem.

Football, the international language of playgrounds, public houses and boardrooms has the incredible ability to prompt middle aged men to openly talk about fashion.

Classic football shirts, design, Peru, Luton Town, Everton, Bedford Trucks, Aston Villa, Scotland

“Oooh. Sampdoria,” they drooled.

“Ah. Nagoya Grampus Eight,” they knowingly nodded.

“Is that bloody Oxford United?” they choked.

Art, design, football, Tottenham, Oxford United, Ipswich, Saudi Arabia, Everton, Newcastle United, Sampdoria

The most iconic football shirts are instantly recognisable and familiar the world over. To the initiated, an Ajax or Boca Juniors home shirt is easily identifiable a mile away and although often imitated, the all-white of Real Madrid or the Blaugrana of Barça stand for more than just sport.

For the nostalgic amongst us, the functional template designs of today’s sportswear brands wildly miss the point. Who draws pride in a shirt that’s sole purpose is to draw sweat away from the body? The uniform blandness of modern designs leads us to the unwritten rule that no man past voting age should ever wear a football shirt in public other than to watch his team at a major final. Give me Umbro’s Euro 96 grey of Gareth Southgate over Nike’s navy blue of today’s England away strip any day.

The Art of the Football Shirt was an opportunity to celebrate rivalries and tribal colours where the majestic Manchester United “snowflake” sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the silver sartorial elegance of Liverpool’s “Candy” away shirt.

Manchester United, Liverpool, adidas, classics, away kit, snowflake, Candy, silver, blue
Tribal colours: Classic graphical football shirts from Adidas’ late 1980s/early 1990s heyday

As much as there were glaring omissions (who could ignore the 20th century’s greatest moment of design flair? No not the Coca-Cola bottle. The QPR home shirt?) this was a chance to marvel at our game at its most beautiful.

The Art of the Football Shirt ran for two days between 26/27 July 2017. Neal Heard’s book, The Football Shirt Book: A Connoisseur’s Guide will be released in September.

Bob Marley, Nantes, football, design, art
The Nantes home shirt was apparently a favourite of Bob Marley’s

Flamengo, Lubrax, Dennis the Menace, QPR, BrazilThe fantastic Flamengo “Dennis the Menace” shirt

Tampa Bay Rowdies, Belgium, Rodney Marsh, soccer shirt, Admiral, Adidas, classics, design, art

New Order, Oasis, England, Bob Marley, Manchester City, football kit, design, music, world in motion
From Bob Marley to the Goldie Lookin’ Chain, the links between football and music are strong
Aberdeen, adidas, 1984, double, shirt, design, culture, classic
Commemorative shirt celebrating Aberdeen’s 1984 double-winning season

Grampus 8, Inter Milan, USA, classic football shirts

Politically inspired football shirts, Tibet, St Pauli, Fiorentina, art, design

Graphic design, football, arsenal, away kit, yellow, Liverpool, Manchester United

Classic football shirt design, art, fashion

The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, art, design, culture, fashion, football
The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London

Is this London’s most sexist sign? 

There was mock outrage in London today as female visitors to the capital were apparently instructed to remove their underwear by a railway information sign.

Continue reading Is this London’s most sexist sign? 

Is Safe Standing on Hammers’ horizon?

WEST HAM co-Chairman David Gold has confirmed the club are exploring the introduction of safe standing at the London Stadium.

The Safe Standing movement gathered momentum this summer when Celtic devoted a section of Parkhead to rail seating having received the go-ahead from Glasgow City Council.

Now, with the Hammers seeking to establish an identity for the former Olympic Stadium after 112 years at the Boleyn Ground; Gold says he wants the London Stadium to be the first Premier League ground to embrace safe standing.

Continue reading Is Safe Standing on Hammers’ horizon?

“Celebrating” the first two years of kieranrobinson.com

TWO YEARS AGO I found myself between jobs and in need of something to keep me out of the pub.

Occupying that period of time some men call “gardening leave” with actual horticultural pursuits was never going to be an option, so on May the 1st 2014, I accepted a challenge to write 500 words on the “positive aspects” of the Lance Armstrong affair, and so kieranrobinson.com was born.

Since then, my ramblings and half-baked observations have received some really positive feedback from many people with brains much bigger than my own and led to some quite interesting invitations. In fact, I’m proud to say that articles from this very website have been seen by people in no fewer than 118 countries across the globe from Zimbabwe to Albania (though strangely we still await our first visit from North Korea). 

Continue reading “Celebrating” the first two years of kieranrobinson.com

Help me, I’m becoming a trainspotter

I’m 36 years of age, I’m a father with a responsible job and friends and family who love me, yet recently I’ve found myself watching programmes about trains on BBC4.
Continue reading Help me, I’m becoming a trainspotter

Lanky Londoners will be too tall for Tube

A SOURCE CLOSE TO CITY HALL has claimed that sections of the capital’s Underground network will be “obsolete” within 20 years if the average height of Londoners continues to grow at current rates.

Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London have been in secret talks to plan for a “taller passenger time-bomb” and have identified the Northern Line as particularly vulnerable.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, Tube, Underground
Boris Johnson: Tube

“Lanky Londoners”

Lanky Londoners like England footballer Peter Crouch are reckoned to have grown by an average of 4 inches in the past 100 years and at current rates of growth, many will find it hard to move but for the unpleasant smell of their fellow Englishmen’s blood.

Continue reading Lanky Londoners will be too tall for Tube

SAFC fans ‘don’t age well’ | QPR: Who are You? Salut! Sunderland

An entertaining preview of the forthcoming Premier League clash between QPR and Sunderland written for the Salut Sunderland fan’s website by Kieran Robinson. Featuring comment on Rangers manager Harry Redknapp, Rs captain Joey Barton, the lack of pubs for away fans in Shepherds Bush and why Sunderland fans don’t age well.
Continue reading SAFC fans ‘don’t age well’ | QPR: Who are You? Salut! Sunderland