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British Pubs are a breeding ground for stories. Whether they are the locations in which tales are created, or the stages in which they are told, storytelling and alcohol have always been two peas in a pod. The Two Puddings in Stratford however, was one such pub that stood above the rest. Nicknamed ‘The Butcher Shop’ due to the amount of blood split on its cream-tiled walls, The Two Puddings has been an East London Legend ever since landlord Eddie Johnson took over the venue in 1962. Throughout the years the pub has attracted people from all walks of life – from writers to World Cup footballers and from infamous gangsters to TV celebrities – and has been the set for many epic yarns. Not wanting these entertaining, hilarious and sometimes unbelievable stories to be lost in the morning-after hangover, Eddie Johnson has now published Tales of the Two Puddings.
To celebrate the release of the book, Fifty First State Press and Bishopsgate Institute featured a photography exhibition of Johnson’s archives and also hosted an interview with the author and broadcaster Robert Elms to look back upon the lost world of the East End. The exhibition displayed more than 50 photographs from Eddie Johnson’s archive, many included in the book, and were accompanied by audio recollections at Bishopsgate Library.
Now that the dust has settled upon the London Olympics, and the costly site is locked up and mothballed for a year, the debate about Stratford’s future and the true legacy of the Games is now beginning to rage.
Eddie Johnson, octogenarian first time author, and one of East London’s most famous landlords, finally tells his tales from the Two Puddings, the notorious Stratford pub he was licensee of for nearly four decades. It was back in 1962, exactly fifty years before the Olympics rolled into East London, that the Johnson family took over the Two Puddings.
Known as one of London’s busiest and most fashionable pubs, its hugely popular music nights acted as a magnet for a large and colourful cast of disparate characters who would regularly descend upon the premises, including renowned actors, writers, singers, musicians, champion boxers, infamous gangsters, television personalities and World Cup winning footballers.
Tales from the Two Puddings is a poignant, at times hilarious, look back upon a lost world of East End eccentrics, local villainy, vindictive policemen, punch ups and practical jokes, all now lying buried beneath the concrete blocks and sterile shopping centres of the ‘new’ Stratford.
Eddie Johnson was born in Limehouse, East London and grew up in Bow. He took over the Two Puddings pub in 1962 and by the time the ‘Puddings’ closed its doors for the last time, nearly four decades later, he was the longest serving licensee in London.
Robert Elms is an award-wining writer and broadcaster. His popular daily radio show on BBC London celebrates every aspect of London.