Page Updated:- Sunday, 18 April, 2021.


Earliest 1750s

Morning Star

Closed 2010

141 Church Road


Morning Star

Above photo, 1947, kindly sent by John Mason. Showing the area where the pub once was and just before the new build.

Morning Star 2009

Above photo 2009 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.

Morning Star 2010

Above photo, 2010.

Morning Star sign 1985

Above sign, May 1985.

With thanks from Brian Curtis


It is believed this was a beer house operating as early as the 1750s. The building was rebuilt in 1890 following its tragic destruction by a WWII bomb in 1940 with the loss of 27 lives. A wooden hut (without toilets!) was erected for use during the intervening 20 years and again rebuilt in 1960.

The pub had been part of the Russell's brewery tied estate, and was later a Truman's house following the latter brewery's acquisition of Russell's in 1930. It sadly finally closed in 2010 and now has been completed renovated into 4 residential properties.


Sunday 10th November, 1940, during a darts match starting at 8 pm, the pub being crowded no one heard the air-raid and so the match continued as German bombers flew overhead to East London.

However, one bomb was destined for Swanscombe and scored a direct hit on the pub. The pub was totally destroyed leaving just the staircase leading to the upstairs clubroom upstairs, a gaping hole in the cellar and the walls blown apart and roof blown off.

The death toll was 27 and 6 seriously injured. The landlord and one of the barmaids being some of those killed along with a seaman and his father, but the landlords wife and daughter survived.

This was Swanscombe's worst incident of the war.


A local book gives further details of the incident and states the following:- "There was an important darts match at the Star, Swanscombe on Sunday 10th November. The teams and regulars turned up and by 8pm the pub was crowded with customers. Above the banter, the excited chatter, the piano playing and the cheers as the darts match got underway, no-one heard the air raid alarm, or the German bombers as they droned overhead on their way to East London.

One bomb was dropped as the raiders flew over and by unlucky chance, it scored a direct hit on the Star. The party was broken up by an enormous explosion and the building just fell apart. Outside, a column of smoke rose into the wintry sky.

Victims, covered in blood and horribly injured, tried to claw their way to safety. Some were yelling hysterically: others were silent and motionless. All that was left of the small bars where the pub stood was a heap of smouldering debris and twisted rafters. The staircase leading to the clubroom upstairs was still in place but there was a gaping hole in the cellar and inside, there was carnage. The people of Swanscombe heard the explosion and those with relatives known to be in the pub rushed out of their homes and shelters. Some also came out of the local cinema: they too had not heard the alert. They were confronted by a distressing scene as they waited for news of the casualties. Firemen, Civil Defence personnel and rescue squads recovered the bodies one by one. Women, many weeping hysterically, stood by the street corner watching the activity, waiting for the moment when the official casualty list could be posted. The death toll rose from 10 to 19 and then to 27, with 6 seriously injured. The landlord died in the bombing but his wife and daughter survived. The barmaid on duty that night was also killed, as was a seaman and his father who were having a drink. It was Swanscombe's worst incident of the war."



From 2012

This former public house has been closed for over 2 years. There was no demand to run the pub as a drinking establishment and therefore a planning application to change the use to residential was submitted.

Planning approval has been obtained for the 4 apartments to the ground floor and two apartments at first floor level with some minor extensions.

Architectural design and building regulations approval then obtained to alter the building as below:

Morning Star 2012

Above photo, 2012.


From an account by Douglass Smith.

One night in 1940 the Morning Star pub in our street was bombed. 51 people were killed. The street was strewn with dead bodies. I helped to move these bodies, many in parts, to a bombed out fish shop where they were laid out and identified. I was very shocked and saddened by this task, but felt that I must help as most of the men were away fighting.

Children grew up quickly in the war.



On 10 November 1940, a direct hit on the Morning Star public house in Church Road caused the death of 27 people. The same raid damaged houses in Sun Road, Vernon Road and Castle Street.


From an email sent 11 September 2019.

Hi Paul,

Another find from 'Swanscombe, in old picture postcards' by Christoph Bull.

You have a couple of references on your site to the bomb that hit and damaged this pub in 1940, and here is a photo to go with it. The paragraph of info contains a couple of nice facts and also some mentions of landlords too.

Morning Star bombed 1940

Morning Star public house, Church Road.

The earliest mentions of the pub were in the 1750s when it was a beer house in Bird's Row (later Church Road). The building was rebuilt about 1890 and in the 1930s was tenanted by Russell's Brewery of Gravesend to Frederick Oram who was also landlord of the "Coopers Arms" in Craylands Lane. In 1938 and 1939 the pub's tenant was Archie Edward Stevens but on 10th November 1940, 27 people were killed including the landlord when the pub received a direct hit from a stray bomb just after 8 p.m. A temporary wooden building, which made the beer warm in summer and which had no toilets, replaced it. The present building was opened in 1960 but it caused a stir in Swanscombe as it had different prices in the saloon and public bars.


Shaun Gardiner.


On the night of the 10 November 1940 the "Morning Star" was bombed. 51 people were killed. The street was strewn with dead bodies. Ten year old Douglass Smith, local resident helped to move these bodies, many in parts, to a bombed out fish shop where they were laid out and identified. Douglass goes on to say he was very shocked and saddened by this task, but felt that he must help as most of the men were away fighting. Children grew up quickly in the war.

Douglass lived in a street called Sun Rd. His grandmother lived four doors down. On the night of the air-raid he says "I had just walking across the road to see her, when I heard a stick of bombs. They landed where I had walked — a lucky escape. I had a game of draughts with my grandmother and then made my way home.

My father worked in a factory nearby. Friends used to sign each other in if one was late. One night, my father’s friend knocked on our shelter door to say he would sign my dad in at work. He went down the street and fell into a newly created bomb crater. He climbed out and went on to work. When my father finally arrived at work himself, this friend was having breakfast. My father then announced that the crater had since filled up with sewage — another lucky escape.


Rising Sun 1940

Above photo showing the bomb damage caused on 10 November 1940.

Star remains

Same photo as above photo showing just a little bit more of the building and staircase that just remained.


I believe some of the local papers and indeed locals just used to refer to this pub as simply the "Star," but to my knowledge it has never officially been known by that mane but always the "Morning Star."



GRANT Benjamin 1881+ (age 49 in 1881Census)

GOSLING Edwin 1891+ (age 29 in 1891Census)

MARTIN Richard 1901+ (age 37 in 1901Census)

MESSAM John 1913+

HOTSON William 1930+

ORAM Frederick 1930s

ORAM Elizabeth Mrs 1938+

STEVENS Archie Edward 1939-10/Nov/40 dec'd (bombed)

Last pub licensee had FRENCH Bill & Lill 1970s


DAVIES C E 1988+

HUTSON D Mr 1990+


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