The Red Cow/King Canute Pub

Canvey Island

Property Description

The King Canute pub is situated in Canvey village, and has been there in some form since roughly 1867, around the era when Canvey village was being constructed. It’s name was changed from the Red Cow after the 1953 North Sea Floods, hence the new sign in the photograph. The above image shows the pub c.1960. Beyond the Point recently interviewed Mr. Ray White, who was on National Service in the summer of 1952, and was told about a possible emergency Operation King Canute which would be enacted if there was a major flooding disaster. One of the depots where the Amy would be stationed for reparation was what is now known as the now King Canute pub. The Operation took it’s name from the King Canute, or ‘Cnut the Great’, an old Saxon King was said to be able to hold back the tide with his power. At this time, the pub was still called the Red Cow, but after the floods it was named after the national operation, in 1953, because the pub within Canvey village was built on a high-point on the Island which escaped the flooding (due to the old St. Katherine’s church that the village was built around, built on the highest point in the days when the Island was still subject to frequent flooding).

The earliest known public house named the Red Cow, that lasted up until the construction of the current building in 1937, may or may not have been its first venue, and possibly could or could not have been constructed around 1867 when the beer house was first recorded. It was served for a long period by Charrington’s, the widespread London-based brewery (first established around 1757 shown in the sign above), up until 2014, although possibly not since the public house was first founded.

The Pub Today

The current building was built in 1937 and features contemporary Art Deco architecture. It was announced it would be closed down as a public house, and did so on the 18th of May 2014. We managed to get some photographs of the building whilst being shuttered over a few days later, several show rare viewpoints. All the photographs can be seen here:

We have investigated the pub and its recent demise. It was revealed that it would fortunately not be demolished and instead would be turned into a convenience store with exterior intact, but the state of the building remains challenged by legal complications. In April 2015, we returned to the site upon learning that the new owners had moved in. We were fortunate enough to be the first people to film and photograph the interior since it opened.

Mr. Henry Noakes with the new pub sign, the licensee of the pub at the time (Courtesy of Canvey Island Community Archive), the old Red Cow inn building 1889 pre-village pump and in 1930s

Beneath the Pub

JULY 2015 – Recently BTP Joe and I were allowed an exclusive glimpse at the hidden cellars of the King Canute pub on Canvey Island. The current owner was keen to let us photograph and explore the building, respecting the history of the building himself. He told us a new sign is in the making which suggests the dormant pub; currently a temporary ‘market’, might see rejuvenation in the future. However the cellar itself was water-logged and very damp – will the mould and structural deterioration bring the unused historic structure down before it sees a new life?

Inside the cellar we could see that much of the walls were painted original brick, probably from when the building was constructed in 1937. A more recent breeze block section had been added at a later date inside what would’ve been a large basement which extends to the span of the building. Various traces of the cellar’s former use were visible, from beer pumps under the bar to fizzy drink labels. It would have been used pretty regularly right up until the pub closed in early 2014, judging by the recent signs and other furnishings scattered around.


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