The Sun – 120 Askew Road, London W12
‘The Sun’ was one of the oldest pubs in the Borough and was included on a list in 1716. Although there may well be some confusion with another establishment in the Borough with the same name ?
On 13th March, 1715 at the ‘Kings Arms’ in Fulham, the first annual list was made for 1716, it contained the names of 25 persons licensed to keep alehouses in Hammersmith, but apart from three exceptions, it omitted their names…’Sun, ‘Bull ‘ and ‘The Ship’.
(The above is of an old postcard from my collection and must be over 100 years old (certainly pre-1913). Interesting to see how the pub had once looked and also that there is an emblem of the sun either side of the entrance)
The Hammersmith archive suggests that there was a pub on the site in 1717 and later that century became a coffeehouse for some time. In 1900 the address was given as ‘118 Askew Road’ but in 1913 became number 120 ? The picture shown above in comparison to the one shown below would suggest that the building was renovated and extended during this period.
(The above pic is from the 1930’s)
My family lived in Willow Vale during the early part of the War and later moved to Rylett Road, which is a few minutes’ walk from ‘The Sun’. My Dad served locally in the ARP before joining the Royal Fusiliers. He once told me that their wheelman had previously been a getaway driver for a London Firm. I don’t know if he was on duty that terrible night in 1940 when the pub was hit during an air raid.
It was on 25th September 1940, that the pub received a direct hit just before closing time. Julie Farley told me that her family lived round the corner in 2a Bassein Park Road at the time. Her Dad, whilst on leave, and it was also his 21st birthday, helped save/recover some of the people from the rubble.
Recently Caroline MacMillan passed on the following story to me: ‘A few years ago I caught the bus from Heathrow on a Friday evening and asked the driver if he could drop me at the end of Askew Road. Due to traffic problems he was diverted and took me up Askew Road and offered to take me to Wendell Road (though not sure how a double-decker full of people would cope with the turns ?) I told him that outside ‘The Sun’ would be fine. He then told me that his father lived locally and went in after the bomb fell to help dig people and bodies, out of the debris.’
There are various accounts of casualties and survivors. One story goes that the only survivor was an elderly resident lady member of staff who was behind the bar and fell flat on the floor as the bomb exploded. Undaunted, she apparently was at the Town Hall within a week to collect her jewellery which had been found among the debris and stored until she was well enough to collect it. Elsewhere it is suggested that the lone survivor was a pet canary ?
During my recent visit to the Hammersmith archive, I was referred to a booklet titled: ‘The Spirit of the Londoner’ – a listing of the fatal casualties in the former Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham: 1940-1945 by John Hook. Twenty one people are listed as killed including: ‘Claude Sparkes, 55, and Gladys Sparkes, 37, of the Sun Inn’.
(Strangely in the above pic, ‘Perton’s Builders Supply Stores’, shown on the left, looks to be virtually unscathed ?)
A new establishment was opened in 1960, but eventually closed in 2010. A couple of years ago, Bernard Lambert informed me that a sign had gone up saying: ‘Russell Lewis Development – Commercial Premises’. Then last month Bernard told me that although the building hadn’t been demolished, it was covered in scaffolding and tarpaulin.
Whatever is erected on the site, I hope that one rumour is definitely true, that a plaque is put up to commemorate the victims of that terrible night in 1940.