Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest  1869

Mason's Arms

Latest 1872+

(Name to)

The Shant


Above map, 1863, showing the possible location of the "Mason's Arms" at The Whitening Factory, Johnson's Cement Works, Cliffe Creek.


The following information has been taken from


Alongside Cliffe Creek, close by I. C. Johnson's cement works, stood the "Masons Arms" from at least 1871. Its location, according to the 1871 Census, was ‘Shant Fort, Johnson's Works' and referred to as ‘The Shant': a name that was later used by another beer house on the same or nearby site. On the Register of Licenses granted in the North Division of Aylesford Lathe in the County of Kent it is recorded to be at Cliffe Battery.

Why it was known as ‘The Shant Fort' or ‘Shant' is unclear but could be the nickname given to it by military personnel from the nearby Cliffe Fort. The word shant is also a colloquial term for a pint of beer deriving from the area around Portsmouth.

The area it served most certainly would have included troops from Cliffe Fort as well as workers at the Pottery and Whitening Works at Johnson's Cement Works site.

The first recorded beer house keeper was Mr. Isaac Thompson, aged 19. Mr. Isaac Thompson, despite his tender years, was no stranger to the trade as he grew up in a beer house: his father, William Thompson, ran the "Gardeners Beer Shop," Chapel Row, Higham. It was Mr. William Thompson who was the recorded owner of the premises.

Isaac's time at The "Masons Arms" was relatively short lived and by 1877 he had moved back to Higham to run The "Railway Tavern" Beer Houses in Chequers Street with his new wife Emma. It was whilst at The "Railway Tavern" Emma gave birth to three children: Francis, Herbert and Sophia.

By 1891 Isaac was out of the beer house trade for good and spent the rest of his days as a Tram Car driver and living in Northfleet.

Although it is not certain whether the "Masons Arms" continued after Isaac's departure there are no further references to it and, in 1872 the proprietor of The "Black Bull" in Cliffe village took charge of a ‘new' beer house on the site: The "Canal Tavern." It is quite possible that the "Mason's Arms" (the Shant) was renamed The "Canal Tavern" (the Shant).


Project 2014 has been started to try and identify all the pubs that are and have ever been open in Kent. I have just added this pub to that list but your help is definitely needed regarding it's history.

As the information is found or sent to me, including photographs, it will be shown here.

Thanks for your co-operation.



THOMPSON Isaac Next pub licensee had 1869-72


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