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Cockney Beanos

June 21, 2013
by the gentle author

A beano from Stepney in the twenties (courtesy Irene Sheath)

It is Midsummer, and we have reached that time of year when a certain clamminess prevails in the city and East Enders turn restless, yearning for a trip to the sea or at the very least an excursion to glimpse some green fields. In the last century, pubs, workplaces and clubs organised annual summer beanos, which gave everyone the opportunity to pile into a coach and enjoy a day out, usually with liberal opportunity for refreshment and sing-songs on the way home.

Tower Hamlets Community Housing is celebrating this joyous phenomenon by gathering a collection of beano photographs of which a selection is published here. All the pictures will be displayed in an exhibition from 18th until 27th July at 285 Commercial Rd, as part of next month’s Cockney Festival. To contribute a photograph, please email it to with details of who it is, when it was taken and where they are going – and, if there are enough, we will publish another set.

Ladies’ beano from The Globe in Hartley St, Bethnal Green, in the fifties. Chris Dixon, who submitted the picture, recognises his grandmother, Flo Beazley, furthest left in the front row beside her next door neighbour Flo Wheeler, who had a fruit and vegetable stall on Green St. (courtesy Chris Dixon)

Another beano from the fifties – eighth from the left is Jim Tyrrell (1908-1991) who worked at Stepney Power Station in Limehouse and drank at the Rainbow on the Highway in Ratcliff.

Mid-twentieth century beano from the archive of Britton’s Coaches in Cable St. (courtesy Martin Harris)

Beano from the Rhodeswell Stores, Rhodeswell Rd, Limehouse in the mid-twenties.

Taken on the way to Southend, this is a ladies’ beano from The Beehive in the Roman Rd during the fifties or sixties in a coach from Empress Coaches. The only men in the photo are the driver and the accordionist. Joan Lord (née Collins) who submitted the photo is the daughter of the publicans of The Beehive. (Courtesy Joan Lord)

Terrie Conway Driver, who submitted this picture of a beano from The Duke of Gloucester, Seabright St, Bethnal Green, points out that her grandfather is seventh from the left in the back row.  (Courtesy Terrie Conway Driver)

Taken on the way to Southend, this is a men’s beano from The Beehive in the Roman Rd in the fifties or sixties in a coach from Empress Coaches. (Courtesy Joan Lord)

Beano in the twenties from the Victory Public House in Ben Jonson Rd, on the corner with Carr St.  Note the charabanc – the name derives from the French char à bancs (“carriage with wooden benches”) and they were originally horse-drawn.

A crowd gathers before a beano from The Queens’ Head in Chicksand St in the early fifties. John Charlton who submitted the photograph pointed out his grandfather George standing in the flat cap holding a bottle of beer on the right with John’s father Bill on the left of him, while John stands directly in front of the man in the straw hat. (Courtesy John Charlton)

Beano for Stepney Borough Council workers in the mid-twentieth century. (Courtesy Susan Armstrong)

Martin Harris, who submitted this picture, indicated that the driver, standing second from the left, is Teddy Britton, his second cousin. (Courtesy Martin Harris)

In the Panama hat is Ted Marks who owned the fish place at the side of the Martin Frobisher School, and is seen here taking his staff out on their annual beano.

George, the father of Colin Watson who submitted this photo, is among those who went on this beano from the Taylor Walker brewery in Limehouse. (Courtesy Colin Watson)

Pub beano setting out for Margate or Southend. (Courtesy John McCarthy)

Men’s beano from c. 1960 (courtesy Cathy Cocline)

Late sixties or early seventies ladies’ beano organised by the Locksley Estate Tenants Association in Limehouse, leaving from outside The Prince Alfred in Locksley St.

The father of John McCarthy, who submitted this photo, is on the far right squatting down with a beer in his hand, in this beano photo taken in the early sixties, which may be from his local, The Shakespeare in Bethnal Green Rd. Equally, it could be a works’ outing, as he was a dustman working for Bethnal Green Council. Typically, the men are wearing button holes and an accordionist accompanies them. Accordionists earned a fortune every summer weekend, playing at beanos. (courtesy John McCarthy)

John Sheehan, who submitted this picture, remembers it was taken on a beano to Clacton in the sixties. From left to right, you can seee John Driscoll who lived in Grosvenor Buildings, Dan Daley of Constant House, outsider Johnny Gamm from Hackney, alongside his cousin, John Sheehan from Constant House and Bill Britton from Holmsdale House. (Courtesy John Sheehan)

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. Melvyn Brooks permalink
    June 21, 2013

    A memory from a different angle.

    We used to live opposite the Spurstowe Arms, in Wilton Way , Hackney. The annual Beano was marked for us by looking out of the window early on a Sunday morning with the coach being loaded with crates of beer and other goodies. There was always a lot joviliaty and shouting although, looking back, I doubt if any of the participants were drunk at this stage. The preparations would come to a head with the coach leaving (in the direction Lea Bridge Road) to the accompaniment of small change being thrown from the windows. Local kids would scramble for the money.
    Our Dad said that it wasn’t fare for us to partcipate in this scramble as he wasn’t a regular in the pub.

    After all the kids had gone home I would spend some time searching in the hope of coming across a penny or two that had been overlooked.

    Never had any luck.

    Karkur Israel

  2. June 21, 2013

    The picture of the beano from the Shakespeare has our mate’s dad Arthur Ranton in the front row and his friend Sam Mason who was the licencee of The Cornwallis on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and Vallance Road. Beanos were always great fun, and saved up for all year.
    Fabulous blog. Thank you.

  3. Jon Boast permalink
    June 21, 2013

    The picture fifth from the bottom is definitely in Margate. Cobb’s was the old Margate brewery.

  4. June 21, 2013

    To accompany the exhibition we’ll be producing a booklet of all images – this will be available from our office (285 Commercial Road, E1 2PS) and online nearer the time…

  5. June 21, 2013

    very good pics of my old mates ,danny daley ,johnny shehan ,johndriscoll ,great memories, also went to taylor walkers beano -1956- by train to margate , happy days !!!

  6. Cherub permalink
    June 21, 2013

    They all look as if they were thouroughly enjoying their day of fun, marvellous photos.

  7. June 21, 2013

    Interesting to note the French vs English translation meaning of Char á Banc (Cart/Carriage with wooden bench) vs the Cockney English term Charabang meaning (People carrying Cart/Carriage = Bus). We still sell Chara Handles originally designed back in the 1870’s for horsedrawn vehicles and still made to the exact design by manufacturers in Birmingham today who make Coach / Bus & Truck components for the Commercial Body Building Industry. They are a Chrome Plated grab handle available with either 6″, 8″ or 10″ centers, used to grab hold of when pulling oneself up into a horse drawn carriage / cart, commercial vehicle (Truck) or Charabang (Bus)! Of Course Empress Motors will know this fact as they (in particular – Bob) used to purchase them from us.

  8. June 21, 2013

    These photographs remind me of the annual outing for children of my dads working mens club in the 50’s and 60’s. We were given 7/6d in a small envelope to spend on rides at the fair whilst the adults went to the pub.

  9. Peter Holford permalink
    June 25, 2013

    I’ve got pictures from the 1920s of a Hackney Victuallers’ DAY-trip(!) to Lands End. 500 miles in an open charabanc and they looked as though they were having a good time. My grandad and his brother featured strongly – both Hackney publicans.

  10. Alan Bevan permalink
    November 10, 2013

    My late father mentioned that there were works outings similar to this in the late Nineteen Forties early Nineteen Fifties, from fur Factories in Shorditch.

  11. Judy Harris permalink
    April 25, 2014

    Just found two pics taken late 1950’s of my grandparents Joe and Alice Overy on a Beano from The Beehive pub. Brought back lots of memories.

  12. June 30, 2015

    The 2nd picture down, the lady in the front row on the left, flower in her hair looks like my great grandmother. Her name was Goddard

  13. Dave White permalink
    March 2, 2016

    As anybody got photos of beanos from the Beehive or st Andrews head in Rhodeswell rd

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