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East End Beanos

July 10, 2018
by the gentle author

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

We have reached that time of year when 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.

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)

Photographs reproduced courtesy of Tower Hamlet Community Housing’s Collection

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    July 10, 2018

    There was a bar in Santa Monica CA called the Fox Inn where Brit ex pats would go (it was owned by a German who could down a pitcher of beer standing on his head). It was pretty raucous but everyone sang along. I was a kid from the San Fernando Valley and I didn’t know what to think. The only place we sang was in school or at YMCA camp. It was so great! People of all ages singing out! And a crazy German chugging pitchers of beer! Santa Monica was a Brit hub in CA. Also there’s a fairly big Brit colony in Santa Barbara.

  2. John Barrett permalink
    July 10, 2018

    So many happy people shown here today a lot have gone now. GA has brought them back to us for a fleeting moment, beano trips are still with us on the super coach now of course. Poet John The Poetry Soc.

  3. July 10, 2018

    Seeing those Empress coaches driving along full of happy, singing folk off for a day at the seaside was an integral part of my childhood and these photographs have recreated those memories for me.
    I can remember watching my grandma ‘whitening’ her canvas sandals before her special day out with her local pub, everyone wanted to look their best as reflected in these photographs .
    Simple pleasures…….happy days.

  4. July 10, 2018

    I love this series — Just looking at the photos (each face!) could provide endless writing prompts for novels, short stories, essays, poems. This is a photographic archive of pure happiness.

    A life without singing!? — Unimaginable.
    Now, cue the accordion music!

  5. B.Weaver permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Fantastic photos, thanks so much brings a smile to your face . Great times

  6. Helen Breen permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what fun these folks were having, most dressed in their Sunday best, for a one day summer outing. Oh, the simplicity of those days.

    I have very large pictures of similar outings (they were not called “beanos” on this side of the pond) in the 1930s of shoe factory employees where my mother worked in Lynn, Massachusetts. But they all look the same, anticipating a big day out…

  7. Barbara permalink
    July 10, 2018

    But why, one loyal reader from America wants to know, were they called “beanos”?

  8. July 10, 2018

    So sad to see that the community no longer exists anywhere in the country now but especially in the East End!

  9. Stephen Barker permalink
    July 11, 2018

    In reply to Barbara, A “Beano” is an abbreviation of a Bean-feast which describes a lavish meal often provided by employers for their staff. It is generally applied to any celebratory event with food and drink.

  10. July 14, 2018

    Another wonderfully evocative piece.

    Although the caption for picture #15 reckons the group were ‘setting out for Margate or Southend’ closer inspection reveals they had already arrived, in Margate that is. Cobb’s, the name plastered on the pub in the background, was a local brewery based in Margate. They brewed well into the 1960s, but were bought by Whitbread (on Whitbread’s notorious ‘tour of destruction’) in 1968 and promptly closed down.

  11. December 27, 2021

    Queens head Spitalfields. My grandfather on the far right in the blazer was the landlord and my father is standing in the doorway at the back. I am the small boy in the white tea shirt next to the soldier. My grandfathers name William Bellamy

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