To folk of my generation the phrase “Up the Junction” conjures up distant memories of a controversial 1965 BBC play, starring Carol White (later of “Cathy Come Home” & “Poor Cow” fame), made into a film a few years later featuring a host of British stars including a young Dennis Waterman & Maureen Lipman. To a slightly younger generation it’s more evocative of Squeeze’s hit of the same name, which reached No.2 in the charts in 1978. But for future generations of Upminster folk it may well bring back memories of times spent in the former Essex Yeoman pub, which reopened on Wednesday 28th October as the rebranded “The Junction”.
The new name naturally is inspired by the adjacent railway junction, as Upminster Station is the point at which two branch lines linking other routes converge. The rail service connecting Upminster with the London, Tilbury & Southend Company’s Fenchurch Street terminus, via Barking, opened on 1 May 1885 when a handful of enthusiasts travelled on the first of the daily service, starting with the 7.13am, one of the 15 trains a day to Fenchurch Street, with stops at Hornchurch, Dagenham and Barking. By early 1890 work on the Romford to Grays railway route, which linked the LTSR lines with the Great Eastern Railways lines into Liverpool Street was under way and the opening on 1 July 1892 of the single-track rail link between Upminster and Grays, meant that Upminster became a junction. The opening less than a year later on 7 June 1893 of the rail link to Romford, with a stop at Great Nelmes & Emerson Park, completed the railway network in the area and emphasised Upminster’s status as a junction.
The new Upminster Station was isolated from the centre of the village for over 15 years after it opened, before any house building got underway nearby and it was only with the development of the Upminster Garden Suburb by WP Griggs & Co from November 1906 that the station at last linked to its local community. However, Griggs’ development of a parade of new shops along the eastside of Station Road stopped short of the Station Approach, and the corner site next to Turner’s Wine & Spirit Merchants at what is now 68 Station Road seems to have remained vacant, surrounded by a four-foot high fence of Chestnut palings.
At some stage no later than 1921 and possibly up to five year earlier, Alfred Rendle, a nurseryman, established a lock-up florists and nursery on this site as an outlet for his nursery in Nags Head Lane.
Alfred Rendle was succeeded around 1927 by H.Stanley Pudney, FRHS (1890-1952), who lived with his wife Mabel and family at 27 Howard Road. Pudney’s nursery remained as a well-known Upminster business for well over 30 years, into the early 1960s.
When the historic Bell Hotel sadly closed its doors for the last time in late 1962 central Upminster was left without a pub. To the west locals had to trek to the Bridge House at Upminster Bridge for a pint, or to the Mason’s Arms, on the orders of Cranham parish to the east, while there was an even longer trip to the Huntsman & Hounds at Corbets Tey to the south, while the nearest to the north was the north the Shepherd & Dog at Upminster Common, a couple of miles away.
It was more than five years before the village centre once again had a pub of its own when the Essex Yeoman opened its doors on the corner site. It’s not clear how the brewers Truman chose the name but the choice was reflected in the decorations and Col G R Judd, the Honorary Colonel of the Essex Yeomanry Regiment pulled the first pint and performed the opening ceremony.
Now owned by Greene King the Yeoman closed its doors on Sunday 11th October 2015 for a complete make-over and reopened at 11am on Wednesday 28th October 2015 as The Junction with a completely new name, new menu and no doubt the owners hope a new image – although Yeoman regulars may wish to disagree.
Are you going up The Junction?