A brief history of The Dickens Inn

The Dickens Inn is a restyled and reconstructed wooden warehouse building thought to have housed tea or to have been owned by a local brewery. It certainly existed at the turn of the 18th century and may well have been born in the 1700’s.


The original building stood on a Thames side site just east of its current location. In the 1820’s its timber frame was encased in a more modern brick shell to make the warehouse conform to the architectural style of St Katharine Docks masterminded by the celebrated Scottish civil engineer “Thomas Telford”.This building came unscathed through the air raids of 1939/45 war, only to be condemned to demolition when the site was needed for redevelopment in the early 1970’s.

The building was thankfully reprieved when the developers discovered the interesting timber frame concealed inside the drab exterior skin of brick.


It could not, however, stay on its original site as this had been earmarked for housing under the St Katharine’s dockland development scheme. The 120 ton timber shell was therefore moved some 70 meters and erected on its present site. The original timbers, tailboards and ironwork were used in the restoration and the building reconstructed in the style of a three storey balconied inn of the 18th century. Photographs from this period make a fascinating display in the entrance to the current Dickens Inn.

When Cedric Charles Dickens, grandson of the famous author Charles Dickens, formally opened the inn in May 1976 he said “My Great Grandfather would have loved this inn”


This is surely true as the writer – who can fairly be known as the worlds favourite story teller – knew Thameside and East London intimately. His works are stocked with characters and scenes memorably linked with the area. He himself would very likely have passed the original brewery many times during his riverside sojourns in search of material for character and scene.


Recent History

During the early years as a pub “The Tavern Bar” used to feature sawdust strewn floors and no bottled or canned beer was stocked. Diners also enjoyed candlelit meals on the balconies; this practice being phased out presumably due to modern fire safety regulations! The Dickens Inn is now one of the most famous and most successful pubs on The River Thames loved by locals and tourists alike. Famous visitors to the venue have included Joan Rivers and Katie Melua. With the recent addition of a large function suite The Dickens Inn can now cater for parties from 4 to 144 for any imaginable occassion. One critic described the current Dickens Inn as “The most atmospheric spot in the whole of London”

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