Visited: Friday 15 January by JC & JB
There’s nothing in this pub to alert you to the fact that it’s where the biggest, oldest, and cockney-est heist in British history was planned: The Hatton Garden Heist. No blue plaque outside, nothing. The bar staff have been forbidden from talking about it. They’re missing a trick: it’s the most interesting thing about the pub.
Boozehound has a nose for news as well as booze and arrived at The Castle the day after the burglars had been found guilty, with his associates, Jonny ‘Five Coats’, Tommy ‘Six Chins’, Sammy ‘One Ball’ and Jackie ‘Half Cut’. We parked ourselves opposite the now infamous table where three of the pensioners were surreptitiously photographed by undercover Scotland Yard cops while they were plotting their raid.
We wanted to get a closer butchers (BUTCHER’S HOOK GUYS, IT’S THE COCKNEY RHYMERS SLANG FOR LOOK) at the table itself and drink in the history. But to our horror the table was occupied. In fairness, it was about 7pm on a Friday so it was always going to be busy: we were lucky to get a table at all. But still, I didn’t trust these Hampton Wicks (That’s Cockney rhythm slangs for ‘pricks’, guys). Just why had they chosen that table exactly? What were they up to? Sure, they look like tourists eating fish and chips, but Boozehound looks like a sober and productive member of society sometimes: looks can be deceiving.
We decide to do some Scotland Yard Flying Squad covert filming of our own. But it turns out Boozehound probably isn’t cut out for a career with the Sweeney Todd (Cockney rhythm-n-blues for Flying Squad, guys. Keep up.) I pretend I’m waiting at the bar, an illusion that is somewhat belied by the fact that the bar isn’t that busy and I’m in danger of actually getting served. Also the camera isn’t that great so I have to stand about a foot away from the bar instead. Essentially I’m standing in the middle of the pub trying to look nonchalant while holding my phone at an unnatural angle. I take the picture.
Probably should have turned the flash off. Panicked, I spin the phone towards me as if I don’t know how to take a selfie. First pass: not a success. Mission compromised, I slink back to base camp.
One of my associates goes to the bar: a perfect cover for another attempt. Flash definitely off this time. I make several attempts but the phone cover gets in the way, then my thumb gets in the way, then I accidentally take a selfie. It’s possible I may have roused their suspicion. My dreams of being an MI5 agent are in ruins.
The Hatton Garden gang, whose collective age could be measured in ice ages, probably chose this pub to plan their heist because it’s so inconspicuous. We were there for a few pints on a Friday night, and while it was busy, there wasn’t much of an atmosphere to speak of. It’s edging towards pricy but without really giving you much for the money. There’s a serviceable drinks selection and the service itself was friendly.
If you are going to come here, make sure it’s in the summer. Head up the apples and pears (that’s cockney hymen slang for stairs, idiot) and you’ll find the best part of the pub: the roof terrace. It covers basically the entire roof, there’s a bar up there which presumably they open in summer, and some of it’s covered in case the heavens open and it starts to Lois Lane (That’s cockn…alright I made that one up).
We think The Castle should really be making the most out of its criminal underworld connections, because, aside from the roof terrace, it’s all that’s going to set it aside from some really quality bars nearby.
I’m Hank Marvin, can I eat? Sure can guv.
Are they in the 21st Century or do I need to pay with Bangers and Mash? Contactless accepted so you don’t need to get any cash, sorry, bangers and mash, out.
Can I bring my Cherry Hog? I’m going to assume that means dog. You can, and there was an excellent dog there when we visited. He could have been an undercover copper though now that I think about it.
I had a Leo Sayer in the Battle Cruiser yesterday and now I feel Moby Dick. Any chance of a Bloody Mary? Erm let’s see, you had…an all dayer? in the boozer? yesterday and now you feel sick? Well not to worry, they do Bloody Marys.
Where can I go for an oily rag? Head upstairs me old china.
Cheers geezer. I’m smoking roll ups, got any Vera Lynns? That’s enough rhyming slang now.
Alright, I’m only having a giraffe: Please stop.
Do you want to buy some jewellery son? All above board. I’m calling the police.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE:
Scotland Yard’s photo