Jan 10

The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 10: The Pakenham Arms, Mount Pleasant

Pumpkin Publog/8 comments • 922 views

There are two words that according to modern usage I pronounce wrong. I will hold my hand up to “Colander” – which I pronounce “cullander” to rhyme with Wallander* as a throwback to believing it etymology being tied to the cauliflower I often saw being drained in one. The other word I annoy everyone with pronounce differently (correctly) is the name of this pub. I give it the long A – to me it is the PAY KEN HAM. Everyone else says PACK EN HAM. But PACK EN HAM sounds a bit too harsh to me, a bit too much like Pack It IN! Which is part of the point of the Pakenham, it doesn’t ask you to pack it in at all. Indeed it is quite happy to let you drink well past midnight.

The Pakenham is a posties pub, backing on to the wasteland at the back of Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, and fifty percent of the drinkers there are usually postal workers. As such you would not be surprised to find big projected sports screens, a dartboard and plenty of rushed pint vertical drinking space. But its horseshoe bar also keeps its beers very well (I think of it as the spiritual home of Doom Bar in London), and the excellent bar staff know how to work their crowd. Even when three deep at the bar at midnight, everyone seems to get served quickly, there is a way in and out of the bar and I have never seen any kind of frustration set in. Perhaps it is the public service ethos and sort/delivery background of its clientele. Perhaps they just have good staff, it not easy to constantly be ready for customers with the lack of sightlines in a horseshoe shaped bar.

But the USP of the Pakenham is its late licence. Before the change in licensing laws, and even after, it was the most civilised place to get a late beer in central London. You knew you could rock up after eleven and have no trouble getting in, and probably get a bit of space to drink in too. We used to do Poptimism in a pub two minutes away, that would kick out at midnight and then twenty of us would invade the Pakenham. I never heard a grumble from either side of this relationship, punters got served and the pub was happy to serve us.

So then we started getting there earlier. It was a big pub that kept its ale well and had cheap food (BIG BELLY BURGER). It started to become a post work pub occasionally. And then another aspect of the Pakenham became apparent. It is a lovely session pub. Large enough to accept twenty people when full means nice and large when quiet. Never empty due to the steady delivery of postmen, but easy to spread along the tables, grab a bit of good value food and enjoy yourself. Nice, bright, well kept with proper pub tat on the walls and a great jukebox too (since gone unfortunately). And once, one shining moment when there was next to no sport on, they even had rodeo on the television.

I love the PAY KEN HAM. Call it by its name.

*It strikes me that this is not a very useful comparison as I appear to pronouce Wallander Wull End Er, which is also wrong.


  1. 1
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 21 Jan 2010 #

    “there is a way in and out of the bar” <– what does this mean or imply?

    the pub is named for FRANK, LORD LONGFORD

  2. 2
    logged out Tracer Hand on 21 Jan 2010 #

    you say “cull-i-flower”????

  3. 3
    logged out Tracer Hand on 21 Jan 2010 #

    btw i always thought this pub missed an opportunity by not calling itself “the pakenham inn”

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 21 Jan 2010 #

    Cully Flower is the right way of saying it. (I fear I have opened a can of worms here).

    “There is a way in and out of the bar” sorry this is a terribly cackhanded way of saying that you can always get to the bar to order a drink even when very busy, and then when you have your drinks it is easy to extricate yourself from the melee at the bar (often tricky with three pints in other bars

  5. 5
    porkypie on 22 Jan 2010 #

    25th of May, 2005. I walked into that pub sometime in the late evening, feeling on top of the world already. Went through the door, had a bottle of champagne passed to me, had my hand shaken by countless strangers and hugged many more. Can’t quite remember leaving, or getting home, but that was quite possibly the best non-family related evening of my life. And for that reason the Pakenham will always be special.

    Would be a great pub if not for that night too, tbf.

  6. 6
    Tom on 23 Jan 2010 #

    Yes, I always associate it with #5 too!

  7. 7
    Kat but logged out innit on 21 Oct 2013 #

    Sad to see the Pakenham has closed – presumably sold off in tandem with the posties going too…

  8. 8
    Pete on 23 Oct 2013 #


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