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The Connaught Tavern

Now known as The Fox@Connaught (since 2003), this pub dates from 1881 and is a Grade II listed building. The dockside Connaught Tavern originally opened to cater for passengers on the craft berthing at the Victoria Docks, however, as the number of these passengers reduced the pub found itself catering more for the dock’s labourers and was a congregation point for those waiting to be picked to work.

The Ghost
Although I am unaware of any haunting like phenomena experienced in at The Connaught Tavern in the last half century, in the 1930’s an apparition was seen at The Connaught Tavern by a barman named Mr Helms. There was a room on the second floor where the aunt of a previous landlord had committed suicide. The room had apparently lay empty and no-one would enter it, including the pubs two Alsatians. Jack Hallam author of ‘The Haunted Inns of England’ (1972) spoke to Helms who visited the room with other members of the bar staff. As Helms was leaving the room he saw an apparition of a woman near the top of the stairs. She was described as being rather aged and having a savage look. Helms and the bar staff apparently fled downstairs.

If the suicide took place and the ghost is actually an aunt of the landlord of The Connaught Tavern, then she could be related to one of the below.

1886 - Henry John Morgan (Landlord)
1896 - Jonathan Batsford (Landlord)
1901 - Mary Ann Batsford nee Davis (Pub Manageress), Eliza Davis (Assistant Manageress), James Davis (Barman), Frederick Ledingham (Barman), Albert Sherington (Barman), Harry Featherstone (Barman), Lavinia Grainger (Housemaid), Lily Anderson (Kitchenmaid), William Parrish (Window Boy)
1902 – 1917 Frederick J Ledingham (ex barman) is Landlord. In 1911 his household included, Winifred Maud Ledingham (Daughter), Sybil Grace Ledingham (Daughter), Sydney Biggs (Barman), Stanley William Geering (Barman), Arthur Frederick Elbourn (Potman), Ernest Philip King (Barman), Constance Flora Vourne (Kitchen Maid), Rachel Holmes (Cook), Caroline Louise Waller (Housemaid)
1925 - 1934 - Sidney Heath Barnes (Landlord)

The Iron Lung
Standing outside The Connaught Tavern could be found the Grade II listed (1983) CS McDowell cast iron Victorian pissoir (a public urinal, usually enclosed by a wall or screen) known locally as the Iron Lung but officially called the Rotunda. This was the last circular public urinal in London and Newham Council sold it to London Docklands Development Corporation during the 1990’s when it was removed for refurbishment. Some sources say the ton weight pissoir it is still in storage whilst others suggest it may be lost.

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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Re: The Connaught Tavern

The following information has been kindly contributed by one of our readers:

In the early 1970's my Aunt and Uncle took over the tenancy of the Connaught Tavern, the Dock Gates were just over the road in those days, also the well known "Iron Lung" lavatory was outside the pub.

There are many floors inside the building the attic was massive and my two cousins thought it would be a good idea to occupy the rooms there.

My Father and Grandfather helped to move in furniture and do some general repairs, my Father was in the attic room at the front, he noticed a broken window pane and temporarily put a piece of card in place, sorted the bed out and left the room, wandering back into the room he noticed the bed had been messed around, and thought one of the dogs had jumped on the bed, the card had moved out of the window, my Father realised and felt something was wrong put a piece of wood in the window, made the bed and left, only to return to find the mattress on the bed had moved the wood pulled out of the hole in the window, but also he saw an old woman in the corner, snarling.

Not to frighten anyone my Father said that the room was not suitable to sleep in and for the girls to use another room, not long after that incident, the girls were in the attic when they heard a blood curdling scream, they ran down to my Aunt who told them it must be the guard dog they heard, immediately my aunt took one of the dogs named Blue up to the attic, Blue was not frightened of anyone, however, he would not go up the last set of stairs to the attic, from then on the attic was unused and out of bounds.

It was after these incidents that regulars would come in and tell the tale of Old Mary, and we all read articles about the Haunting, my Aunt and Uncle were glad when after a couple of years, the tenancy came to an end, and my Father never forgot the look on the old womans face.

When I drive past the Connaught, I often look at the attic window, and was wondering if the new occupiers had thought about getting a medium to look into the Haunting.

My cousin also said that one night they were trying to sleep in the lower flat, when they heard a terrible noise as if some one was dragging something along the floor boards the cat went absolutely mad, the next day my uncle called in the pest control thinking it was rats under the floor boards but nothing was found, also she said the day they heard the scream if was terrifying it began with a long loud moan that ended up in a scream, it frightened both of them.

Daniel Parkinson's picture
Daniel Parkinson
User offline. Last seen 4 years 47 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Re: The Connaught Tavern

I imagine the phrase 'you ton weight  Victorian pissoir' would make a good insult

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Re: The Connaught Tavern

A recent e-mail confirms the Iron Lung is currently owned by GLA and is in storage.

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