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John Kennett looks at the history of New Eltham’s
only public house
the same year that Queen Victoria thirst. The Bee Hive, as originally signed,
celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, was set in over an acre of cultivated
the Beehive opened at New Eltham. ground and run by James Todman, a
This imposing pub, registered as being nurseryman and beer seller. Perhaps
of local and architectural interest, dates the pub name came from his work as a
from the days when much of the land market gardener as bees would be kept
was taken for farming, trains were steam as pollinators. James died at the end
driven and horse power was the order of 1865 and the pub passed through
of the day. successive owners and licensees.
Beehive 1
Working Boys’ Home at Smithfield. The
police were called and the offender,
who was well known to them via several
aliases, was taken before the Woolwich
The proprietor in 1897 of the new
enlarged Beehive was Philip Rives for
many years in the Union Steam Ship
Company. A contemporary report states
The original Beehive
Although the pub is dated 1897, it Between 1879 and 1894 the licensee was
replaced an earlier hostelry whose origin James Stiff and the premises described
can be traced back to 1848 when it was as ‘inn, stables and pleasure garden’. The
the only building in the vicinity alongside owner was CN Kidd of the Oak Brewery
the road to Maidstone and a place for at Dartford. It is recorded in the 1880s
travellers and drovers to quench their that ‘great trotting races were held
with the Beehive as GHQ,
Date and Motif
Tattersall’s and weighing-in
as well.’
The house having been rebuilt is now

fitted with most elegant saloon bars
From 1882 James Stiff was
and capacious rooms for large and small
paid £5 per annum by
parties. The wines, spirits, ales and cigars
the Metropolitan Board of
are of the best brands and from firms
Works to rent a shed for
of the highest repute. Good stabling
the 600 feet long hose and
for 30 horses. Hunters Boxes. Lock up
reel of the newly formed
department for cyclists and special
New Eltham Fire Brigade. In
accommodation for ladies. Luncheons,
1886 Mr Stiff’s sharp eyed
dinners and teas at the shortest notice,
daughter prevented the
billiards and bagatelle.
presentation of a counterfeit
cheque proffered as deposit
Mr Rives did not stay long as in
for a bean feast for 67
September, 1898 new licensee George
The Beehive, 1905 when Alfred Crisp was Landlord
boys supposedly from the
Ayres invited his numerous London
We are proud of Eltham
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