By John Maskell


  The Swan Public House 363, High Road Tottenham London N.17

  Now closed, this watering hole has had a very chequered past. Situated, next to Tottenham Bus Station on the corner of Phillip Lane and the High Road Tottenham N.17, it was first recorded in 1455, which makes it over 500 years old. Thanks to Ray Swain, the brother of the editor of this site Alan, saved the Pub sign when he found it in the skip outside the Swan which was being refurbished. Sadly, Ray passed away a while ago, but his efforts saved the sign which now resides in the Bruce Castle Museum.

  The pub has been closed for a few years now, mostly due to the death of a young girl, when it was run partly as a club.





  It's main claim to fame is that Izzak Walton, probably the most famous of all anglers stayed there when he fished the River Lea.

 Pictured left is a sketch of the garden and arbour at 'The Swan' which was much favoured by Izaak Walton. In the background you will note Tottenham High Cross



 As a young boy I lived across the high street in High Cross Road and passed the Swan to collect bus numbers from the depot, (What a geek). I have very fond memories of great times in the sixties at the Swan. The two pictures of the pub are from around 1963. In January that year I became a member of a pop group called Johnny & The Bobcats and after practicing at the Swan in the afternoons for a few weeks, we persuaded the Manager, Mick to let us play a few nights, and a short while after, we became the resident band, playing every Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights as well as every other Sunday Lunch time. The third picture is of myself singing and behind me is the Bass player, Joey Vale. The second picture shows the whole group. From left to right, myself the vocalist, Joey Vale, Bass guitar (Sadly deceased) Tony Deeks, Rhythm guitar, Bernie Allen, Drummer (Again sadly deceased) and Bobby Savage, Lead Guitarist.


After a few weeks the place was heaving with people who came from all over London, it was a very good atmosphere, and during the eighteen months I sang with the band there, people came there to have a drink and listen to the music and not to look for trouble, basically because they had respect for the manager Mick, who would not tolerate any disturbance. It was about the time when Dave Clark was having great success at the Famed, Tottenham Royal, just a few hundred yards down the road.


 In January 1964, there was a new addition to the non-music bar, as it now had its own entertainment, if required. Mick had installed a brand-new type of Juke Box which had a screen on the top. Costing a whole shilling to play a record, twice as much as a standard player, you could watch the artist you selected sing the song, a great attraction for when bands were not performing. The 6th picture above, is a Juke Box similar to the one that resided in the Swan.


                                                    SIMILAR JUKE-BOX TO THE SWAN

 A fond memory was playing at the Swan on New Year's Eve December 1963 and the 2nd picture reminds me of that evening. As you can imagine the place was heaving and about 12.30am, I think it was Bobby asked for any requests and someone proffered The Conga. Well, on starting this number it went on and on and on, to the point where the revellers were going out one door going across the traffic lights and back into the pub through another door. This meant that the passing traffic was backed up quite a bit and after a while some blue flashing lights turned up with some men in uniform. At that point the party was over. No one was arrested as the policemen saw the funny side of things.


 At the time of our residency at the Swan we were also a supporting act for a lot of famous artists of the time. not just locally, but all over the country. One venue we appeared at was the California Ballroom Supporting, Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, two coach loads of supporters from the Swan came to the venue to support us, that day. Another time we appeared there was with The Merseybeats.

In another photograph below it shows an advert for the group when we supported Duffy Power & The Beat Syndicate at Ramsgate. The weird thing was around three months later, I became the Vocalist for The Beat Syndicate, having left Group 004 + 1.


The Club Noreik - Tottenham

(When it had a good reputation with: )

Hackney Empire

Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames
The Paramounts
The Kinks
The Moquettes
The Undertakers

 Norman Vaughan
Ted Rodgers
Hilda Baker & Our Eli
Jackie Rae
Keith Fordyce
Cooks Ferry Inn - North Circular Road - Edmonton
West Cliff Ballroom - Ramsgate

  The Steam Packet 

 Duffy Power and The Beat Syndicates 

 Deke Arlon and The Offbeats


The Manor House - Finsbury Park Shoreditch Town Hall

The Hollies
Gene Vincent and The Shouts
The Chez Don Club - Dalston USAF Greenham Common - Berkshire

Headlined on the eve of the troops starting to return home, to the United States  


Other bands we played support to, were:
Bern Elliott & The Fenmen (Finchley), Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers (Tudor Hall Hoddesdon),The Yardbirds (South of the River), The Pretty Things, The Four Pennies. One venue we played was in Liverpool but my memory is not working on where it was, but may have been the Moss Empire.

By January 1964, the group had morphed into Group 004 + 1. The last time I performed with the group was at Shoreditch Town Hall where we supported Gene Vincent & The Shouts, as previously mentioned.

Other groups came and played after the band left the Swan, including an old classmate of mine from Down Lane Infants and Junior school, John Cassidy. Although John is better known as a stand up comedian, in the sixties, he was in a band called The Barristers, who played there for a while.

Like many venues in the past, across London, they all have their ups and downs, mostly conjured by what we remember. My memories of the Swan are all good, Happy days. If there is anyone out there who visited the pub at the time, I hope your experience was as good as my own.

Kindest Regards

John Maskell

Article written by John Maskell - May 2022