Following on from last year’s article on Francis Smith and the ‘Hammersmith Ghost’, a visit to the Black Lion then became essential. The pub is situated in Black Lion Lane and although it’s located very close to the river, any view of it is unfortunately obscured. Inside, I found the atmosphere very relaxed and had the sort of feel of a country pub. The fish and chips were very nice but rather expensive at ¬£11.00.
The author A.P. Herbert used to live locally and he adapted the name of the pub to the ‘Black Swan’ in his book, ‘The Water Gypsies’. Chris Amies mentions in his book on Hammersmith and Fulham pubs that Herbert once wrote a letter to the ‘Morning Post’ when the Black Lion was threatened with closure. There used to be an old skittle alley but it was replaced by a spacious patio garden and major renovations were carried out in the 90’s.
There is an interesting plaque outside which reads…..
‘Formally known as the Black Lyon. A Public House has stood on this site for well over 200 years. Originally a Piggery it is reputed that the pig farmer started brewing beer for himself and his friends – this proved so popular that it overtook his agricultural interests as his main occupation. The Hammersmith Ghost started haunting Black Lion Lane and St.Paul’s Churchyard in 1804. One night an Excise Officer Francis Smith filled his blunderbuss with shot, and himself with ale before killing an unfortunate white-clothed bricklayer, Thomas Millwood, whom he had mistaken for the ghost.It was to the Black Lion that the body was taken and an inquest held later.’
Thanks to Brian Russell for the above photo.