Kane’s local: The Prospect of Whitby

The Prospect of Whitby. DCI Frank Kane’s local in Dead in 10. He might be the only cop in the department still drinking there, but he ain’t moving to any fancy craft beer boozer anytime soon, thank you very much.

Where Trent and his boss make that discovery.

Here’s some more about the ancient riverside pub in Wapping – and some pics, too …

“It wasn’t that DCI Frank Kane spent all his time in the Prospect. It was the short work he made of its barrels when he got there.”

The pub’s been on the site overlooking the river for over 400 years, and was previously know as The Pelican and The Devil’s Tavern. Kane’s the only officer to drink there after the station move to Whitechapel, and enjoys its shady history as ‘a meeting place for sailors, smugglers, cut-throats and footpads’. The interior’s mostly 19th century, though the stone floor is original, and the wood panelled walls are decorated with all manner of nautical bits-and-bobs.

The alley running down the side of the Prospect of Whitby leading to the shore of the Thames.
Pelican Stairs – the alley running down the side of the Prospect of Whitby leading to the shore of the Thames.

Cut down Pelican Stairs (the side passage and watermen’s stairs to the right of the pub) and you’re very quickly onto the shingle Thames bank. From here there’s good views across to Canary Wharf, and being at water level gives some insight into how the river would have dominated everyday life for many Londoners over the centuries.

Steps leading down to the cobbles on the shore.
Steps leading down to the cobbles beside the shore.

 

Looking up to the gallery at the back of the Prospect.
Looking up to the gallery at the back of the Prospect.

A macabre feature (and a draw for tourists) is the hanging post sticking out of the water to the rear of the pub. The site lays claim to be the location of Execution Dock, where smugglers and pirates were for centuries executed on a scaffold, though sources can’t be 100% clear about the exact spot along the Wapping shoreline. The Prospect was also the pub of choice of Judge Jefferies, the notorious ‘Hanging Judge’ who conducted the 1685 trials of the rebels involved in the Monmouth Rebellion, and legend has it that he used to watch hangings from the Prospect’s balcony.

"(And) it had a genuine association with the filth, too: back in the day felons had been transported to Australia from the pier out back. As Kane had told (Trent) countless times, legend had it that the post poking from the water at low tide was used for hangings."
“(And) it had a genuine association with the filth, too: back in the day felons had been transported to Australia from the pier out back. As Kane had told (Trent) countless times, legend had it that the post poking from the water at low tide was used for hangings.”

 

"Kane pointed out over the Thames: 'That post there - you see it? The black stump sticking out the sand? Criminals used to hand there. Murderers, rapists ...'"
“Kane pointed out over the Thames: ‘That post there – you see it? The black stump sticking out the sand? Criminals used to hand there. Murderers, rapists …'”

 

"For decades the pub on the river had been the station local before the move to Whitechapel. It was old school: flagstones on the floor, anchors, wheels and other nautical stuff pinned to the walls."
“For decades the pub on the river had been the station local before the move to Whitechapel. It was old school: flagstones on the floor, anchors, wheels and other nautical stuff pinned to the walls.”

If you’re planning on paying a trip down there it’s worth strolling up Wapping High Street where much of the eighteenth and nineteenth century industrial architecture remains. All the old wharves have been converted into apartments or offices, though another historic pub – The Town of Ramsgate – is still popular and a short walk from the Prospect.

Walking down Wapping High Street towards St Katherine's Docks. All of the old wharves have now been converted for residential or office use.
Walking down Wapping High Street towards St Katherine’s Docks. All of the old wharves have now been converted for residential or office use.

Wapping Overground station.
Wapping Overground station.

The Prospect of Whitby (Green King pubs’ website)

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