Sort file:- Tunbridge Wells, March, 2022.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 06 March, 2022.


Earliest 1860

Red Lion

Latest ????

(Name to)

66 St Johns Road

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Red Lion 1907

Above postcard, postmarked 1907, showing the pub on the left. Kindly sent by Ed Gilbert.

Red Lion pre 1911

Above photo with thanks to Fred Scales. pre 1911.

Shown above is a postcard view of St John's Road taken on the occasion of the 1911 coronation of George V, as provided by Sally Fox.

The picture shows The Coronation Procession and the Buffaloes (R.A.O.B) Lodge float outside the "Red Lion." Sally reported that the taller boy on the float was her father, with his sister and brother. His step-father, the landlord of the pub, George Cowley, is standing in front of him in the light suit with no hat. Sally said “it seems his tenancy was short-lived, perhaps only 1910-12 at a guess”.

Red Lion 1953

Above photo, 1953.


From an article by Edward James Gilbert.


Written by: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: September 30, 2014


The Red Lion Inn was located at 66 St John's Road, on the east side of St John's Road just north of Culverden Down between Somerset and Newcomen Road and was the second building south of Skinners School.

The Red Lion began under this name in about 1860 and continued by that name well into the 20th century. During the period of 1862 to 1938 the pub was run by a total of seven different licensed victuallers, with the longest serving one being John Pollard who was its first keeper.

Although the building still exists, and operates as a pub, it has changed hands many times since 1938 and today (2014) is known as "St. John's Yard". Before that it was called "Spanner In The Works" and before that the "Lava Bar".

This article traces the history of the pub from 1862 onwards.



Opened in about 1860, its first licensed victualler, as noted in a 1862 directory, was John Pollard. John was born 1806 in Goudhurst, Kent. He is found at the Red Lion at 66 St John's in the 1871 census with his wife Frances, born about 1818 in Bow, London and some servants. The 1874 directory, taken at the same location (but given as No. 64) lists John Pollard as a publican and a brick maker. The 1881 census at ‘The Red Lion Inn' 66 St John's Road recorded the presence of John Pollard; his wife Frances and two lodgers. John was still listed at this establishment in the 1882 Kelly directory. By 1891 the pub had been taken over by William George and John Pollard passed away in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1893.

The presence of William George as the publican of the Red Lion is noted in the 1891 census taken at 66 St John's Road. Present there was William George, born 1827 in Kingston on Thames, Surrey. He is given as ‘publican and proprietor'. Living with him was his wife Susannah, born 1828 in Aynho, Northamptonshire. His children George, age 34, born 1857 at Egham, Surrey and Fanny, age 32, born 1859 at Egham were also present. In addition William's son on law Frank Don and two grandchildren were there. William George died at the Red Lion in the 3rd qtr of 1893.

When William George passed away in 1893 the pub was taken over by Thomas Lefevre, who remained there until at least 1903 when he appears in a directory for that year. Thomas was also recorded there in an 1899 directory. Thomas had been born 1851 in Tunbridge Wells and by 1882 at the latest he had married Elizabeth, who was born 1846 in London. The 1901 census, taken at the ‘Red Lion Hotel' recorded the presence of Thomas (as licensed victualler, owner) and his wife Elizabeth and a daughter Daisey T. Lefevre, age 19, born 1882 in Penshurst. Probate records give the death of Thomas Lefevre at the Red Lion on November 15, 1903. His 296 pound estate was left to his wife Elizabeth Hannah Lefevre.

It is not known who took over the pub after the the death of Thomas Lefevre in 1903 but the pub was taken over by George Cowley not long after.

The next publican noted was James Thomas Dunn who is found there in the 1913 and 1918 Kelly directories. Nothing more is known about him.

After Dunn came Edward Henry Cross, who is found there in a 1922 Kelly directory. Edward had been born 1884 at Chatham, Kent, the son of Henry Cross. On December 13, 1906 Edward married Maud Florence Robins, born 1884 at Sherness, Kent. The marriage took place at St Mary's Church in Chatham. The 1911 census, taken at the ‘Golden Eagle” pub at 1 Station Street in Sittingbourne recorded Edward as a beer retailer. Living with him was his wife Maude Florence Cross, age 27; his two daughters Dorothy Maud, age 3; and Edith May, age 1, both born at Gillingham, Kent. Also present in this seven room building was one domestic servant. The census recorded that the couple had been married four years and that they had two children. Probate records give Edward Henry Cross of the Red Lion Inn, Tunbridge Wells died August 9, 1924. The executor of his 398 pound estate was his wife Maud Florence Cross. Maud continued to run the pub on her own after her husband's death and is recorded at the publican there as Mrs Maud Cross in the 1930 Kelly directory. Probate records gave Maud Florence Cross of 112 Victoria Park Road, South Hackney, Middlesex, widow, died August 22, 1935 at 230 High Street Homerton, Middlesex. The executor of her 1,288 pound estate was Albert Scoger, a retired grocer.

The last person of note at the Red Lion was Patrick Walter Berkeley, who is listed there in a 1938 directory. Those who ran the pub after 1938 were not researched but I conclude my coverage of the history of this pub in the next section when it was run under different names.



The Red Lion became the ‘Spanner in The Works', a pub that also offered food and seemed to be well liked ,according to reviews, by those who went there for a drink and something to eat. It was later renamed the Lava Bar.


Shown opposite are two photos of the Lava Bar, one showing the exterior and one the interior.


This bar served a variety of beverages and food and under that name the business changed hands several times. It had lunch and dinner menus and they advertised themselves as a restaurant and bar. Those who visited the premises stated ‘they had a good range of lagers and a great atmosphere”.


The Lava Bar became ‘St John's Yard' just a few years ago and still operates at 66 St John's Road today.

It has a small modern bar area with comfortable and quirky furniture. There is also a large area for drinks on the rear patio, a spot which comes into its own when occasional beer festivals are held there. There is a function room seating fifty people available free of charge. They offer lunch and evening meals with the paved back area uses as the pub garden.


The Chronicle and Courier, 16 September, 1921.

Lamberhurst Brewery Estate.

Important sale at Tunbridge Wells.

One of the biggest sales of licensed houses held in the provinces in recent years was conducted by Messrs. Wickenden and Sons at the Pump Room, Tunbridge Wells, on Friday, when the Lamberhurst Brewery Estate, comprising 68 lots, came Under the Hammer. The lots sold were:-


"Red Lion," Tunbridge Wells, 2,500




Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.



POLLARD John 1862-82+ (also Brick Maker age 75 in 1881Census) Kent and Sussex Courier

GEORGE William 1891+

LEFEVRE Thomas 1903+ Kelly's 1903

COWLEY George 1911+

DUNN James Thomas 1913-18+

CROSS Edward H 1922-9/Aug/24 dec'd

CROSS Maud Mrs 9/Aug/1924-30+

BERKELEY Patrick Walter 1938+


Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-