Who'd A Thought It pub, Plumstead
The Who’d A Thought It dates back to the 1840s

An historic Plumstead pub with links to Arsenal football club could be demolished and replaced with seven houses if developers have their way.

The Who’d A Thought It, which dates back to the 1840s, “has been commercially unviable for a number of years”, according to the Clapton-based property company Goldenspark (Timber) Ltd, which wants to erect a row of terraced homes on the site.

The pub, on Timbercroft Lane, was historically known as one of the Five Idlers of Plumstead Common, featured on postcards with the rhyme: “The Star which doesn’t shine in the sky, the Woodman who doesn’t cut down trees, the Ship that cannot sail the seas, the Mill which doesn’t grind corn, and Who’d a Thought it!”

Four of the five Idlers survive, with the Woodman now a restaurant.

Five Idlers of Plumstead Common postcard
Four of the five Idlers still exist as pubs

The Who’d A Thought It was also once owned by Jock Craib, a chairman of Woolwich Arsenal football club, which played nearby before moving to Highbury in 1913.

“Plumstead Common is well visited by local residents. However, the pub is situated in an area that does not benefit from passing trade,” a viability assessment submitted to Greenwich Council says. The pub is leased to Punch Taverns, which sub-lets it to a landlord who then has to buy his products from the company.

“Aesthetically the pub is not an attractive venue, externally the general condition is poor whilst internally the layout and general decor dated.”

The developers say the pub is on the market for £1.2 million, which they claim is “a reasonable price”. Goldenspark bought the site for £1.1 million in February 2018, according to Land Registry documents.

Render of new homes to replace Who'd A Thought It
The developers’ view down Timbercroft Lane

A previous plan to keep the a smaller pub and build five homes on the site was refused by council officers in July 2021, without it going to a planning committee. The officers said that the developers had “not provided any evidence to confirm that the existing public house in its current extent is unviable”.

The pub is just off The Slade, where Greenwich Council spent £550,000 on creating a new cafe out of a derelict building in 2018 and offered the occupiers steep rent discounts to help them get started. While the business was welcomed by locals, the project caused controversy as a residents’ party was standing for election at the time in protest at perceived neglect of Plumstead, and no other areas of the borough were receiving similar help.

New homes render
The seven homes would be designed to match their surroundings

The new homes would all be three storeys with three bedrooms and designed to fit in with the Victorian terraces surrounding them. They would have one car parking space each.

All would be for private sale or rent, as only seven homes are being provided, less than the threshold of ten homes needed for so-called “affordable” housing.

Comments on the application can be made at the Greenwich Council planning website.

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