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Above: View looking across Rushey Green at the pub a few years before it was closed.
As time goes by, London is losing two or three pubs every week. One of the recent casualties was the George Inn which, before its demise, was able to boast that it was the oldest hostelry in Lewisham. The earliest reference to the inn was 1588 when it then stood on the west side of Rushey Green, near the site of the old Lewisham Central Library.
Above: Photograph of the pub taken about 1870 with ‘a coach and four’ standing outside. The destination name of ‘Bromley’ is shown on the side of the stage-coach.
Around 1700-20 a new inn was erected on the last site – on the east side of Rushey Green. Whether the two hostelries were connected is doubtful. The last inn was used by stage coaches as late as 1870 for routes not yet served by railways.
Before the arrival of trams, which came to Rushey Green in 1890, coaches formed the principal form of transport for those who could afford a better form of transport than walking. The trams were electrified in 1906, but not extended south of Catford until 1914.
By 2008 the inn was boarded up. There was a fire in the building which then destroyed parts of it. By 2010 it was demolished and the site was developed for housing.
The exact site of the pub was on the corner with George Lane at 1 Rushey Green, SE6. Pubs are a business, like any other, and if they make no money then obviously they will close. However, pubs are not like shops because they also contribute to the social fabric of the community in a way that is not true for shops. To see a shop close is sad but to see a pub close can be the end of a chapter in the local history of an area. While few people are likely to miss it – otherwise they would still be its patrons – we are seeing the loss of pubs at a rate never seen in the history of the licensed trade.