Post Memories: Dagenham’s Eastbrook listed as one of best heritage pubs

The Eastbrook pub, Dagenham Road is a listed building and has been included in a book by the campaig

The Eastbrook pub, Dagenham Road is a listed building and has been included in a book by the campaign for real ale as one of the best heritage pubs. - Credit: Archant

This week, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, published a book highlighting 270 hidden gems of British pub architecture, and the Eastbrook pub in Dagenham is one of them.

The Eastbrook pub, Dagenham.

The Eastbrook pub, Dagenham. - Credit: Archant

The book, Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs, is an illustrated celebration of pub interiors that have altered little during their long lifespan.

Stained glass windows in the Eastbrook pub.

Stained glass windows in the Eastbrook pub. - Credit: Archant

The project stems from the growing nostalgia for interior styles spanning a century or more, especially when pubs are increasingly modified and modernised.

Author Geoff Brandwood said: “Our pubs have been changed so much during the past half century that ones with genuine historic interiors are no incredible rarities.”

The Eastbrook was built in 1937 by an unknown architect for wine merchants GA Smith and Dunning whose name is still in existence.

It was built to serve the rapidly expanding suburbs of Dagenham and was one of a great number of large pubs popping up between the wars which rejected the flamboyant architecture and small bar layout of late Victorian ‘gin palaces’ and aimed for an open plan interior with large windows and neo-Georgian exteriors.

Called ‘improved’ public houses, many included a restaurant and billiards room to encourage activities other than just drinking, and also provided accommodation for travellers.

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In 2010, the building gained Grade II listing with English Heritage after CAMRA put in an application.

English Heritage gave the status on the basis the Eastbrook “epitomises the pluralistic approach to design in the inter-war years and nostalgia for ‘Merrie England’.”

CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors calls the Dagenham Road pub “the finest 1930s pub anywhere”, and continues to say “this is a truly remarkable survivor which will repay the trek out to see it.”

Composed of panels of brick alternating with render, the architecture of the building is asymmetrical.

There are two separate bars – the Oak Room and the Walnut Room. The former is rustic and neo-Tudor, with an arched fireplace and encased beams, while the latter is neo-Georgian in style and has a classical fireplace and walnut panelling.

A third offshoot is called the Music Room, which is lined by stained glass windows depicting a variety of musical instruments.

In true 1930s style, the room size can be varied by a folding glazed screen, and art-deco style mirrors are positioned at the bar-back with further wooden columns framing the walls.

When you go up to the bar to order, you are ordering at the original counter.

In fact, almost every aspect of the interior is the original thing, even the toilets in the Oak Bar haven’t altered.

Landlord Greg Allen 45, who has run the pub for the past 16 years, said: “It’s great to be included in the book. The pub is just as it was, and it takes a lot of work keeping it in good condition.”