Shakers Bar

Status:Open as a pub
Phone:01255 556627

Shakers Bar in West Street is the latest incarnation of an old Harwich pub that has changed many times over the years. It was previously known as the Welcome Sailor, Elephant & Castle, The Haywain and Mariners and is still open as a popular watering hole today.

Shakers Bar, Harwich
Shakers Bar.


The exact history of Shakers Bar is far from clear. What we see today is a purpose-built pub from, it is thought, the early 1900s but there was an inn trading on the site for many years before.

The earliest references are from 1862 when the pub is up for auction and Joseph Allen Cross is recorded in the Kelly's Directory of that year as keeper of the Welcome Sailor.

The 1862 auction is interesting because it lists the pub (as Lot 2) in a portfolio of property owned by the late Samuel Graham thus:

Lot 2.
All those MESSUAGES, TENEMENTS and BUILDINGS, known as the “Welcome Sailor” public house, No. 10 Golden Lion Lane, and Nos. 11 and 12, West Street, held by Mr. Charrington Nicholl and his under-tenants; and Three Tenements in Golden Lion Lane, in the occupancies of Wm. Emmet, No. 7, James Pells, No. 8, and James R. Johnson, No. 9. Together producing a rental of £60.

This apparently describes a collection of buildings that had become known as the Welcome Sailor with layers of ownership but primarily controlled by Colchester brewers Charrington Nicholl – a company rather than a person as implied by the newspaper advert.

If we go back to the 1851 census we find a “beershop” at the same place in West Street kept by widow Elizabeth Dawson who was aged 59. We can therefore take a guess that the Welcome Sailor came about as a result of the 1830 Beerhouse Act which made it much easier to open a house up to sell beer. We also find the pub in the 1861, being run by (Joseph) Allen Cross, his second wife and family – although the pub is still not named on the census return.

In 1870 we find the first reference to the Elephant & Castle, with an auction taking place on the premises, and in 1874 it is listed in the Post Office Directory as the “Elephant and Castle PH, West Street” kept by James Downes.

By the 1881 census John Smith has taken over at the pub with his wife Mary Ann, daughter and son and in the following year John was in trouble for selling intoxicating drinks during prohibited hours (5:30am) and was fined two shillings and sixpence plus thirteen shillings in costs or face fourteen days hard labour. He paid up.

The Smiths stayed at the pub for another twenty years and it is believed that during their tenure the pub changed owners, being bought by the Tollemache brothers who had started their brewing empire in 1888.

At some point it was decided that the old collection of buildings occupied by the pub were dilapidated and no longer fit for purpose so, around 1904, the pub was rebuilt in the style we see today.

The style of the rebuilt Elephant & Castle is very interesting because it looks very much like what would later become known as “Tolly Follies” as the Tollemache family built large new pubs in their home town of Ipswich in a mock-baronial style, with nods to their own family home at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk.

If the Elephant & Castle was a prototype for these pubs it was built 30 years earlier.

The Elephant & Castle closed in 1979 but re-opened in 1985 as The Haywain. It was re-named again in 2002, becoming Mariners, before finally adopting its current name in recent years.

Notable Facts, Things to Look Out For

Historic Harwich Pub Trail is a collaboration between the Tendring Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale and the Harwich Society.
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