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THE NEWMAN ARMS CHARACTERFUL PUBLICAN

The Plaque to former landlord Joe Jenkins outside the Newman Arms.

A GOODNIGHT CUSS FROM THE LANDLORD

By Richard Jones

An encounter between Dylan Thomas and Joe (you're all f******g barred) Jenkins would, no doubt, have sent many a terrified tourist scattering, not so gentle, into that goodnight.

The sad thing is that, had Joe become landlord of the Newman Arms, on Rathbone Street, fifty or so years earlier than he actually did, then this dream meeting would have been a distinct possibility, if not a certainty.

A HAUNT OF DYLAN THOMAS

After all Dylan Thomas was known to quench his, not unsizeable, thirst at the Newman Arms.

And Joe Jenkins, the aforementioned ex proprietor, a renowned "Bon Viveur" and a celebrated "Old Git" - a man whose verbal talent for "regularly" swearing "at everybody on these premises," was unsurpassed - was, for many years, a firm fixture behind the bar of the pub.

But the two never met and the poetry of the verbal exchange that might have flowed between them must remain nothing more than idle musing.

A POPULAR AND CHARACTERFUL LANDLORD

That Joe Jenkins - in addition to his verbal dexterity and all round curmudgeon - was also a popular and much loved landlord, is attested to by the, aptly coloured, blue plaque that his regulars fixed to the outside wall of the pub following his death in 2010.

But, cussing ex-proprietors aside, many famous, infamous and un-famous, characters have crossed the threshold of the Newman Arms to partake of the two things that this delightful London hostelry serves up in abundance - good beer and good conversation.

WINSTON CHURCHILL AND GEORGE ORWELL

Winston Churchill was known to stop in for a drink, as was George Orwell, who, reputedly, used it as his model for the prole, underclass pub in 1984.

Tradition also holds that Orwell took a tipple here before heading off to fight in the Spanish Civil War in December 1936. Some even claim that he may have had the Newman Arms in mind when listing the "ten qualities the perfect pub should have" in his 1946 Evening Standard article The Moon Under Water.

IT'S MURDER IN HERE

In 1960, the Newman Arms was the location of a grisly murder, albeit a fictional one, when the first killing in Michael Powell's critically panned movie Peeping Tom was filmed here.

Mark Lewis, the film's sadistic serial killer, meets his first victim in the narrow - and still very sinister looking - Newman Passage alongside the pub.

She takes him to her room, which is located above the Newman Arms, and here he obligingly dispatches her whilst filming his crime on his cine-camera.

It was an inauspicious film debut for the pub, since the mauling that Powell took from the critics effectively murdered his film career.

Len Mosley, for example, was on particularly vitriolic form in the Daily Express when he told readers that:-

"In the three and a half months since my name last appeared at the head of this page I have carted my travel-stained carcase to (among other places) some of the filthiest and most festering slums in Asia. But nothing, nothing, nothing - neither the hopeless leper colonies of East Pakistan, the back streets of Bombay nor the gutters of Calcutta - has left me with such a feeling of nausea and depression as I got this week while sitting through a new British film called Peeping Tom.."

PEEPING TOM MAKES A COME BACK

As it happens, several major directors, spearheaded by Martin Scorsese, have re-ignited interest in Peeping Tom, and it is now regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

TELEVISION APPEARANCES

The Newman Arms, meanwhile, has since sealed its reputation as a star of the screen with appearances in Minder, The Bill, Alas Smith and Jones and The Ali G Show.

No doubt Joe Jenkins is, well and truly, biting hard on his lip behind that great bar in the sky!