Sort file:- Swanscombe, October, 2021.

Page Updated:- Saturday, 23 October, 2021.


Earliest 1742

(Name from)

Brown Bear

Closed 1974+

59 High Street


Brown Bear

Above photo, date 1910. The lantern above the side door say 'billiards'. So was probably the door to the billiard room. Apparently the clock in the pub had no numbers but instead had 12 letters that spelt THE BROWN BEAR.

Brown Bear 1911

The naming of William Stoneham as landlord dates this picture to c.1911."

Greenhithe map 1897

Above map 1897.

Above 1907 map showing "Hull Trader" (yellow),  "Brown Bear" (green), "Sir John Franklin" (pink). All the buildings on the left from the Church were knocked down for a new build.

Brown Bear 1930s

Above photo, circa 1930.

The Reporter on March 10th 1967.

James Uglow 1967

"The landlord of the "Brown Bear" public house, Mr. James Uglow, takes a break from his chores to admire the view of the Thames."

Brown Bear 1970s

Above photo circa 1970s.


"At the height of its popularity with Edwardian day-trippers Greenhithe High Street supported at least four pubs and an un-named beer house. Close to the "Hull Trader," but on the landward side of the High Street, the "Brown Bear" was in business by 1742 and closed in 1972. An auction catalogue of 1865 mentioned the pub's 'very large Club Room, with shifting partition and two fireplaces.' One trade directory, in 1891, misprinted the name as The "Brown Mare."


This was a tied "Fleet Brewery" pub in 1865 when the brewery was put up for auction. In that account it was addresses as being in Greenhithe although it is very close to the Swanscombe border and has also been addressed as there.

I believe this has been called or changed name from the "Beare" some time around 1742.


From a local newspaper, December 1842.

Our new Pier is universally allowed to be the handsomest structure of the kind on the river, and its convenience is daily experienced. It was designed by Mr. Birch, engineer of London. On Friday last, a noble instance of courage and humanity was witnessed here. The Blackwall, steamer, having come off Greenhithe, a waterman was about to put three persons on board from the Essex side, when the paddle wheel struck his boat and capsized it. A youth named Maclean, of Gravesend, instantly sprung from the vessel and rescued two of the party by holding them up, until the crew drew them to the steamer by means of the boat hook. The others were also happily saved. On Tuesday last a lad named Frost, belonging to the brig Lapwing lying off here, fell from the main boom on to the deck, and broke his thigh. Dr. Seccomb most promptly attended, and ably set the limb. The unfortunate sufferer, was removed to the "Brown Bear Inn."


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette, Saturday 18 March 1848.


Thomas Gerard, indicted for the manslaughter of Tomas Carter, Greenhithe.

Sir W. Riddell prosecuted; and Mr. Horn defended the prisoner.

Mary Neale deposed, that she lived with deceased who on the 3rd July came to Greenhithe and went to the "Brown Bear" public house where he was drinking with other parties he was; very drunk; a quarrel caused and deceased was put out of the room; witness and deceased went some distance on the road when he sat down and witness left him; on her return he was nearly dead.

Cross-examined:- Deceased struck her a violent blow, but she did not strike him behind the ear with a sickle.

William Joyner, landlord of the "Brown Bear" public house, at Greenhithe, stated that deceased was very drunk, on which he was turned out with great violence and knocked down in the passage insensible; witness found his foot jammed in the tap room door which was fastened by the men inside; he begged of them to release him, but the party inside called out "hold on, I think you have done for him"; deceased had been taking beer from the pots of the men in the room, which was the cause of his being turned out; Gerrard was not there when deceased was turned out but had been there in the course of the day.

William Vallens deposed, that he saw deceased pass his house and after he had gone a short distance the prisoner passed on a pony - heard him say several times "get up or I will ride over you;" witness went out and saw the prisoner as the pony whose feet were close to deceased, the prisoner at the same time kicked in the pony to force him on the nearside, deceased put up his hand and uttered some rude expression on which prisoner got off the pony and took hold of the reins with his left hand and pulled him into the road and struck him with his left hand several times; prisoner then forced him towards wall; deceased groaned several times and then died; deceased spoke to prisoner but not until prisoner struck deceased witness went up to him and told him that he ought not to have struck the man; prisoner said that his pony shied; witness then went for a doctor who came in ten minutes but deceased was dead; he did not send for more than five minutes after he was struck by the prisoner.

Cross-examined:- Prisoner struck deceased in the face with his left hand; also with his (deceased's) whip which was lying by his side; did not see the pony shy; prisoner appeared to have been drinking.

William Bullard who saw what took place, corroborated to evidence of last witness.

Mr. Sutton, Greenhithe, stated that he was called to attend deceased, whom he found dead - there were no external marks of violence - he afterwards made a post mortem examination and was of opinion that his death was caused by the rupture of a vessel in the base of the brain, drunkenness alone would have produced the appearance found and so also would a blow or a heavy fall.

His Lordship thought from the evidence the jury could not safely convict the prisoner of manslaughter, but they could find him guilty of an assault.

The jury after a few minutes' deliberation found the person guilty of an assault without receiving any provocation.

Several witnesses were called to the character of the prisoner who had known him some years and spoke of him as a quiet inoffensive man.

Six months' hard labour.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Tuesday 3 February 1863.

Greenhithe. Distressing suicide.

An inquest was held at the "Brown Bear Inn," on Wednesday evening, before C J Carrtar Esq., and respectful jury, of whom Mr. William Russell was appointed foreman, on the body of William Stephen Hoadley, who had committed suicide under the very distressing circumstances.

It would appear that the deceased went out for a walk after dinner on Tuesday, in company with his nephew. After proceeding some little distance he left his relative, who shortly after saw him rush across a short piece of scrub, and hurl himself off the summit of a chalk pit. On being picked up, the unfortunate man, notwithstanding that he had fallen the distance of nearly 100 feet, was found to be alive, and requested to be removed to his residence, whether he was taken, but expired shortly after his arrival. He has for some time been in a state of great suffering, owing to an injury sustained some 18-month since, and has lately been in a very despondent state.

The jury returned a verdict "That the deceased destroyed himself while labouring under a fit of temporary insanity.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Tuesday 3 February 1863.

Proposed gas company.

A meeting was held on Tuesday evening, at the "Brown Bear Inn," for the purpose of ascertaining whether it was possible to establish gas works for this place.

Mr. Bliss was called to the chair, when a resolution was proposed and seconded to the effect that it was desirable to establish a gas company for the parishes of Greenhithe, Swanscombe, and Stone.
A committee was formed to ascertain the number of lights that will be required, and to canvas for shares.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser, Thursday 11 July 1895.

Charles Sibley was charged with stealing 14s. 7 d., the money of Frederick Nash, the landlord of the "Brown Bear," Greenhithe, on the 30th June. Mr. Chancellor defended.

prisoner was committed for trial, bail being taken.


Michael Norman says he drank in the pub in the pub shortly before its closure around 1974 and says he can remember that the juke box still took pre-decimal pennies despite this being after decimalisation. You had to change up your decimal currency behind the bar!



CULLEN Edward 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

BLISS Henry 1840+

JOYNER William 1848-58+ (age 39 in 1851Census)

CHILLMAID Henry 1861+ (age 46 in 1861Census)

CHILLAMID Henry 1881+ (age 28 in 1881Census)

SMILES Joseph G 1891+ (age 31 in 1891Census)

NASH Frederick 1895+ Maidstone and Kentish Journal

BEADLE Alfred 1901-11 (age 44 in 1901Census) Kelly's 1903

STONEHAM William 1911+

UGLOW Capt Jim MBE 1967-70s


Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


Maidstone and Kentish JournalMaidstone and Kentish Journal


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-