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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
17th January 1899 Born today: Nevil Shute [Norway], London, novelist (On the Beach, Town Like Alice)
17th January 1886 Born today: Ronald Firbank, London, novelist (Flower Beneath the Foot)
17th January 1775 R B Sheridan's Rivals, premieres in London
17th January 1670 Highwayman Claude Duval found guilty of 6 robberies and sentenced to death.
This pub is haunted by its founder, Frank Crocker.
Location: 24 Aberdeen Place, Kilburn, NW8 8JR
Description: This grand old pub is reputedly haunted by its founder Kilburn publican Frank Crocker - distraught by his mistaken impression that trains from Marylebone would stop nearby; the expected customers never materialised.
Originally called The Crown Hotel, it was built in 1898 in an unassuming Maida Vale side street with 2 bars, one ornately functional and one opulantly grand. There once was a prominent bust of Caracalla, a sly dig by the architect. Caracalla was a Roman emperor known for his architectural excesses and his complete insanity.
It surely was the biggest gamble in the history of pubs: the railway was approaching from the north, heading straight as an arrow for Maida Vale. Surely, reasoned Crocker, it would stop right were he was building his palatial pub; and the Crown Hotel would become the Railway Hotel, and a goldmine.
Alas for Crocker! The line turned left a few degrees at St John's Wood, to terminate not at his doorway, but about a mile away, where Marylebone Station now stands.
The Crown Hotel was alas a palace in the middle of nowhere; the grandest folie in London.
Crocker, naturally, went bust and then killed himself by jumping out of an upstairs window here.
The name was changed to fit the legend in 1987.
The real story is that Frank died of natural causes at the age of 41 in 1904 and was a very respected member of the community. The suicide tale was invented by the new owner who had an over active imagination and was trying to make a name for the bar!