The Red Lion: back to its 1930s heyday?

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This week it emerged butterfly-like from months of scaffolding. We salute a local architectural classic

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It's been through more name-changes than P Diddy: a splendid Lion in the 1930s. Photo: CC
It’s been through more name-changes than P Diddy: a splendid Lion in the 1930s. Photo: Twitter
You might well take it for granted if you’ve moved to Leytonstone within the last half decade, but The Red Lion, that well-known High Road landmark, has had something of a tricky past.

So what’s the story? Well, established way back in 1670 as the Robin Hood, it had turned into the Red Lion by the mid-18th century, a stopping place for stage coaches and, in the absence of a town hall, a bit of a social hotspot.

Then it was rebuilt in 1891 into the fine Gothic pile unveiled this week by current owners Antic (after what feels like aeons under scaffolding). And hark: look closely at those leaded windows! That elegant cupola! The way it catches the evening sun!

Fine exterior now minus scaffolding. Photo: Twitter
Unveiled this week: a fine exterior now minus scaffolding. Photo: @NadiaReads/Twitter
Until the present incarnation, its previous most popular era after the 1930s (see main pic above) was arguably the 1970s, when it was a live music venue and hosted an early Led Zeppelin London gig. Other bands to have graced its stage include Yes, Genesis and Roxy Music. Not a bad pedigree, eh?

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There have been low points too, its popularity taking a nosedive in the 1980s as the oddly-named Luthers; by 2001 it had become Cuba Bella, a salsa bar, before a revamp as Zulu’s a year later, a late night watering hole aimed at the area’s South African residents.

As Zulus in the early 2000s. Photo: Stephen Harris/Closedpubs.co.uk
As Zulus in the early 2000s. Photo: Stephen Harris/Closedpubs.co.uk

And so it ticked over until finally closing in 2010 – before being reborn five years ago courtesy of Antic, the pub group which started life as the seminal Dog Star in Brixton.

So isn’t it a relief that once again the Lion’s roaring as loudly as it should be? To celebrate there’s even a new head chef in the kitchen, so expect a little more prowess there too.

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Find The Red Lion at 640 High Road E11 and follow them on Twitter @redlione11.

Source: Closedpubs.co.uk

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  • sproutstherapy

    Leytonstoner Thanks for using the photo I took U0001f60a great article!

  • NadiaReads

    Leytonstoner thanks for using my photo U0001f604 interesting article!

  • Leytonstoner

    NadiaReads pleasure! Think we credited you U0001f600

  • NadiaReads

    Leytonstoner You did, cheers!

  • NadiaReads

    Leytonstoner You did, cheers!

  • Roland Payne

    Good article Becci Payne , great pub too !’