The Blind Beggar is a pub on Whitechapel Road in Whitechapel in the East End of London, England. It is notable as the former brewery tap of the Manns Albion brewery, where the first modern Brown Ale was brewed. The pub was built in 1894 on the site of an inn which had been established before 1654, and takes its name from the legend of
Henry de Montfort.
Henry de Montfort (1238-1265)
In The Legend Of The Blind Beggar Henry de Montfort was wounded and lost his sight in the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and was nursed to health by a baroness, and together they had a child named Besse. He became the "Blind Beggar of Bednal Green" and used to beg at the crossroads. The story of how he went from landed gentry to poor beggar became popular in the Tudor era, and was revived by Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765. The legend came to be adopted in the arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green in 1900.
William Booth (1829-1912)
Booth was the founder of The Salvation Army and preached his first sermon outside the Beggar. William and Catherine Booth opened the "Whitechapel Mission". BOOTH HOUSE (a mens resettlement centre), now stands in Whitechapel Road and a statue of him also stands close by. The pub is a common tourist attraction for Salvationists.
Albion Brewery and Thomas Wells Thorpe
Converted to housing now, the former Albion Brewery stands next door towering over the pub that served as its tap room, until it closed in 1979. In 1808, it was the enterprising landlord of The Blind Beggar who bought the small brewery next door and named it the Albion Brewery, which grew to be the third largest in Britain by 1880 and, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the first Brown Ale was brewed here by Thomas Wells Thorpe.
In 1904, ‘Bulldog’ Wallace, a member of The Blind Beggar Gang of pickpockets who frequented the pub, stabbed another man in the eye with an umbrella.
Georgie Cornell and Ronnie Kray (March 1966)
On 9 March 1966, Cornell and his friend Albie Woods entered the Blind Beggar pub, ordered some light ales and then sat upon stools next to the bar. At around 8:30pm, both men were approached by Ronnie Kray and a Kray associate, Ian Barrie; upon seeing him, Cornell smiled and said sardonically, "Well, just look who's here". As a warning to the barmaid and the few others in the pub, Barrie fired two shots into the ceiling, while Kray walked towards Cornell, took out a 9 mm Luger, and calmly shot him once in the forehead, just above his right eye. The men turned and departed to a waiting car on the street. Kray was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder three years later and remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death in 1995.
David Dobson (2005 to present)
David is the founder and director of The Blind Beggar Pub Company established in 2005.