Becontree station first opened on the District Line on 18th July 1932, which coincided with the renaming of the existing mainline rail station on the site, previously known as Gale Street Halt, which had opened in 1926. These rail services were withdrawn back in 1962, but the derelict platforms still remain in situ.
The station building, which dates back to 1932, is a rather dull and unremarkable brick box structure. The shelters at platform level aren’t really anything special either.
The Pub: The Roundhouse, Lodge Avenue, RM8 2HY
When it was built in the 1920s and 30s, Becontree was at the time the largest publically owned housing estate in the world. One of the London history books I own states concerns were raised that for an area where 26,000 new homes had been built by 1939, there were only six pubs serving the estate! There are far fewer now but I managed to visit one of the survivors, The Roundhouse. It’s about 15minutes walk from the station, head along Rugby Road until you reach Lodge Avenue where you’ll find the Roundhouse. It lives up to its name as its an impressive, circular art deco building designed by specialist pub architect Alfred W Blomfield. In some respects with its central tower, it reminds me a bit of a Charles Holden Piccadilly Line station.
It’s certainly a very large pub inside, divided into several circular rooms with names such as the games room and lounge room. It wasn’t that busy here so only a couple of the rooms were open. We sat in the busiest room, backing onto the main bar. There’s a large picture of Muhammad Ali on the wall, although I’d be pleasantly surprised if he came here. The rooms all have that art deco feel to them – I really like the lighting but understand these aren’t original features. There weren’t any ales available on tap so I had to for a lager here. It felt like it was quite a locals place, but not in an intimidating way. We did visit during mid week where it was quite quiet. It has a Sky Sports licence, as is proudly advertised on the outside of the pub.
CAMRA’s London Pubs Group have done an excellent write-up of the Roundhouse here. When it opened, one of its rooms was given over solely for tea drinkers and there was even an indoor bowling green! I’d don’t think I’ve heard of any pubs that ever had that before! It then moved with the times in the late ’60s and was for a spell known as East London’s top rock music venue with legendary bands such as Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd all playing here. There is still regular live music here, with the chalk board displaying the ‘Flying Saucers’ would be playing here on that coming Friday.
The Roundhouse is a large and interesting building, indeed I think it has more going for it in architectural and historical merit than it does as a pub. That said, it still perfectly fine for a pint here!
(The pub has no website)