Above: The pub beside Woolwich Road, near the Woolwich Road flyover.
This rather elegant Public House and hotel stands on what is now a very grim corner where the main route to the Blackwall Tunnel crosses and interchanges with Woolwich Road. Nevertheless, the name of this pub keeps alive the name of a great benefactor to the world of Art.
John Julius Angerstein (1732-1823) was born in 1732 in St Petersburg, Russia, of noble birth. He emigrated to England, at the age of 15, and his first position after arriving in London was in Thompson’s counting-house.
From these humble beginnings Angerstein became a wealthy businessman and Lloyd’s underwriter. With the vast wealth that he amassed, he had a house built in 1774 at Woodlands, to designs of George Gibson (Younger). Angerstein had leased the land from the Page Turners. He was still living at Woodlands when he died in 1823. The family continued to own the house until 1870. The house is still there today, in use as a community centre. It is not far away from the pub – at No 90, near the top of Mycenae Road.
Angerstein was a great art collector of paintings which he kept in his house. It was the prospect that his collection of paintings was about to be sold by his estate, in 1824, that galvanised the founding of the National Gallery, London.
Although the National Gallery is known throughout the world, few people know the name of Angerstein whose personal collection formed the nucleus of the famous collection. Apart from this pub, beside a busy road, and Angerstein Wharf, on the riverside at Charlton, which both keep his name alive, very few people seem to know his name at all.