The Dog and Duck public house was very well known locally and apart from the Angel on the borders of Bermondsey, was Rotherhithe’s most famous pub. It was built in 1723. The painting to the right shows a symmetrical frontage with rectangular windows that looks distinctly Georgian, which is consistent with its date of construction.
For 221 years the Dog and Duck it sat at York Place, between South Dock and Greenland Dock, right on the edge of the Thames, where ships could moor against the quayside. It was shown on the 1827 Greenwood map, just downriver from where the entrance to the Thames Clipper pier is located today. According to Edward Walford in ‘Rotherhithe’, in Old and New London: Volume 6, 1878 (on the British History Online website), the pub’s name and its sign refer to “a barbarous pastime of our ancestors, when ducks were hunted in a pond by spaniels. The pleasure consisted in seeing the duck make her escape from the dog’s mouth by diving. It was much practised in the neighbourhood of London, and particularly in these southern suburbs, till the beginning of this century, when it went out of fashion, as most of the ponds were gradually built over.” and was destroyed by a German V1 flying bomb during the Second World War, on 31st October 1944. It was one of many Rotherhithe losses during the Blitz, and was never rebuilt.
There’s a photograph of it at the bottom of the page showing it in 1931, by W.G. Browne, whose dog is shown in the foreground. At that time it was a Charringtons pub, but I don’t know how long it was owned by Charringtons or if it was in the hands of different breweries at other times.
There are surprisingly few images of the pub, given how well known it was. To date, I have been unable to find out who painted the above picture, or where it is currently located.
The Dog and Duck stairs, which were named for the pub, are the only remaining physical legacy of the pub, and even they are a modern replacement. Perhaps there are remnants of the pub building, or at least the lost possessions of its customers, on the foreshore beneath the Thames Clipper’s Greenland Pier, just by the Dog and Duck stairs.
There’s a list of the people who worked or live at the Dog and Duck over the years on the UK Pub History website. I am sure that they could have told some really great stories.
For the next part of the story click here: The Post-War Years