Goodbye to the Cadeleigh Arms

On Sunday night the Cadeleigh Arms closed forever. It was a small, unassuming back-street boozer, and it was also my local. Despite all of the people who never went there telling you it closed because it wasn’t welcoming enough or the regulars were pissed-up sad cases, it was a nice, bright, working class pub and you could not have found a more friendly pair of proprietors than Diarmuid and Mary.

Though the bulk of the Cadeleigh’s clientele was plumbers and electricians, you could also find architects and IT specialists and guidance counsellors, even the odd web developer. I made friends in there, I knew the staff by name, I could guarantee going in there and finding someone to talk to. Good luck with that in most places.

On Sunday there was a party to close the place down. There were speeches and dancing and tears and free booze; it was still going on when I rolled home at 3am. That night I met an old man who told me he’d been going there for 50 years, and his best friend for 40. They were Carribean immigrants who’d found a welcoming place in London. The Cadeleigh was always more mixed than many places; there were Sikhs, Africans, Carribeans, Polish… apparently many years ago, before Diarmuid and Mary, it was a reggae pub!

But sadly the night of the party was the busiest it had been for many years. Four years ago I used to have to arrive half an hour before the football started in order to get a seat. No chance of that any more. The mostly working class punters are hit harder than most by price increases, and even though they kept prices cheaper than many London pubs, £3 for a pint is only a pound cheaper than a pack of four from Tesco.

It was a very fast decline; for the last two years only the rent from the flats above it had been keeping the pub afloat. And now, it’s gone. So I’d like to raise a glass to Diarmuid and Mary and their family, and to all the regulars of the Cadeleigh, and say goodbye to a little corner of old London.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

35 thoughts on “Goodbye to the Cadeleigh Arms”

  1. Nicely written Peter. Even though I only went infrequently, your post shows how much it will be missed.

  2. All nights should be like that, all pubs as real. The loss of pubs and social clubs is opening a void in British society. We are losing whole areas where tolerance, humour, sociability, mixability and meetability existed. It’s too sad to mourn, we must move on, but where?

    Banking and brewing — oh, Conservative big society, where art thou?

  3. Conservative big society, where art thou?

    Just go out there and meet lots of fat people Dagmar. Let’s face it they’re big.

  4. Mine is a good point, quote it right.

    “Banking and brewing — oh, Conservative big society, where art thou?”

  5. Park events are good, Gabe. What’s happening in Warwick Gardens this summer? Will there be a Shard opening celebration today? Chilled Chardonnay! Come along, shard the wealth!

  6. The Cadleigh’s always been out of my orbit geographically although chance meant that I went there quite a bit when DandM set up there.

    Notwithstanding everything thoughtful and accurate that Peter recounts, I know quite a few people in the Shenley / Talfourd area and none of them used the pub regularly. Liked the people didn’t like the sparseness of the decor and, often, Great for Guinness but not nice beer was mentioned.

    There’s two bees in Caribbean.

  7. Scientists are saying there is a one in two million chance that the Cadleigh did not exist at all. The space between the ears of the oily, braying, decor-phobic, alcohol-intolerant people from “the toast rack” who did not frequent the Cadleigh was, by contrast, infinite.

  8. Grilled Chardonnay? I’m in. There is someone who posts here who’s on the Warwick Gardens committee. He/she said there is a plan.

    Plumbers make wedge don’t they? Doubt they’re the ones worried about £3 a pint.

  9. Not sure we’ll get anything off the ground in Warwick Gardens this Summer. Many of the people who were behind the Wingding have moved on and out and we’ve found it difficult to get people with the time, energy and nous to replace them.

    Next year though.….

    Any volunteers?

    And we’re looking for a new chair.

  10. Saturday sees LYNDHURST PRIMARY SCHOOL SUMMER FAIR from 12.30–3.30pm near the top of Grove Lane towards the George Canning.

    This marvellously cheerful and welcoming event features a traditional fairground carousel, Pimms, falafels, Caribbean chicken, barbecued sausages, loads of stalls offering bargains, plus mind-boggling entertainments. There is even a crockery-smashing booth, once the preserve of Japanese businessmen in corporate freak-out rooms, now available for a small fee to anyone who wants to have a smashing time.

    The fair is always a wonderful glimpse into the beating heart of a local manufactory of optimism where people watch in awe as children hand out the unique attitude that is Camberwell.

  11. Hi florian — I’m lacking time & energy, and most of all, nous.
    I did help on the falafel stall at last year’s school fair though. Noam has a great receipe imported direct from the falafel home lands. Do recommend.

  12. With apologies to Peter for shamelessly plugging on the blog.

    I finally have my website set up for sales of limited edition and signed 36 Reasons To Love Camberwell prints which you can find here:

    Anyone pre-ordering the book will also get a discount.

    Thanks all.


  13. The book is a must at 15 quid. There will be books, bric, brac, CDs, falafel and fun at the LYNDHURST SUMMER FAIR today from 12.30–3.30 with the added frisson of bright sunshine and heavy showers accompanied by lashings of Pimms.

    The vibrants colours, compositions and narratives to be experienced there will be as vivid — with the photosensitive effect that Pimms gives — as Monkeycat’s fabulous photos.

  14. Marketing blurb for “final release limited availability” Camberwell Grove town houses dropped through the letterbox today.

    “As featured on BBC2’s ‘The Secret History of our Streets’ ” (those marketing types don’t miss a trick, do they?).

    “Rediscover relaxed, modern city living…”

    The cheapest a snip at £1,500,000.

    I wonder if they take cash?

  15. Yes, Diarmuid and Mary were/are wonderful! And I wish them all the very best in whatever they do next. I had a leaving do there, at the back, about 12 years ago and they were so kind and welcoming. I loved the atmosphere and everything about the pub. Much love to them and their family.

  16. Lyndhurst School Summer Fair was so exciting, the Punch and Judy man had a heart attack. Quick action from medical parents and the nearby hospital saved him. Today we are told he is OK. The puppets chattered on without him. “You give ‘im marf-ter-marf.” “No, you.” It was a valuable lesson for the children.

    The sooner the Cadleigh is transformed, the better. It’s a sad sight at the moment, with its skip like a coffin left out in the rain. Camberwell has seen gastro-bistros come and go like so many TV personalities boasting their wow factor, but few people can run a proper pub, as my dear sister Maude so poignantly writes.

  17. Darling Dagmar,
    There used to be a blood pressure measuring service (provided by one of the parents) at the Lyndhurst Fair. Maybe it should be reintroduced!

    Yes, the Hermit’s Cave is another example of a very well run and wonderful pub come rain or shine.

  18. Maude, you’re back! That was a long night out! Yes, a blood-pressure service would be a great idea. Bonus prizes for anyone who can understand the measurements without thinking they’re horse-racing betting odds.

    All the healthy people would love it. The fatter ones — or whatever they’re called nowadays — differently weighted — culturally heavyweight — would have to be put in some sort of sling. But they would like that!

    The Punch and Judy man was lucky to have at hand a yoga teacher who saw what was happening right away and is so strong and balanced she manhandled him down to a lying position where — chance would have it at Lyndhurst — an experienced A&E matron mummy pumped his chest.

    The paramedic van arrived really quickly after that, soon followed by the ambulance reversing carefully through the playground of swarming tiddlers all hoping to see a death — bless ’em, they all grow up Dickensian cockney in Camberwell — then the excellent NHS took its course.

    One is tempted to think that many people live in Camberwell not for the failing gastro-bistros but because it is handy for Kings and the Maudsley. Think what it must be like to traipse miles to get fixed up or shrunk. A lot of people just wouldn’t bother.

  19. What is happening to the Cadeleigh Arms? I walked past yesterday and it had signs which said “closed for refurbishment”…but are you saying now it’s closing?


  20. Sadder by the day. Seen a bunch of people photographing the old pub the other night. I guess for posterity.

    Maude, welcome back. How’s the weather looking for the weekend?

  21. Olympic Torch is coming by Camberwell and then along to Peckham at midday on July 26.

    < I think for the first time I have an actual local news-factoid to contribute here.

    Picked that up at the parent/teacher evening at school yesterday. The kids, aided and abetted, are going bonkers for the Olympics, which is cool.

    Did you know that every national flag in the world contains at least one of the colours of the Olympic Rings?

  22. The torch is coming from Peckham — through Camberwell at 12.00 then up Denmark Hill and along Coldharbour Lane where they will be mugged.

  23. Hello to all and it is lovely to be back!
    Camberwell in the rain is almost as beautiful as Camberwell in the sun.…I don’t mean that. This rain has got to stop before we all subside into the abyss. Which reminds me that the celebrated politician and architect of the 1909 National Insurance Act, Besterman (I think), first came to Camberwell in 1900 and wrote a book about his experiences of life around Camberwell Green entitled “From the Abyss”.

    When we were walking around Camberwell this evening it did seem a little frenetic so we dived into The Vineyard (at the bottom of Camberwell Grove) which was wonderfully friendly, calming and good value.
    And now, as Pepys would say, “and so to bed”. Sweet dreams to all Camberwellians!

  24. Year 2 homework (7 year olds) this week is to create an Olympic Mascot out of London landmarks!

    It’s creative & educational. Double win.

    Note: You don’t actually create the mascot out of Big Bens and Shards… you draw a picture of it, natch.

    @bea thanks for correcting the direction the torch will be travelling. I assumed they’d be on their way to Olympic Stadium and thence travelling North East.

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