Page Updated:- Wednesday, 15 June, 2022.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest 1838-

Royal Oak

Open 2022+

36 Lower Road


01304 829433

Royal Oak circa 1960

Above photo taken in 1960 and kindly sent by Terry Wheeler of the Ramsgate Historical Society.

Freddie Mack 1970s

Above photo, circa 1970, showing Freddie Mack and dog, Shane, outside the "Royal Oak." Don't know the name of the horse though.

Royal Oak inside 1970s

Above photo 1970s, kindly sent by Terence Kirk. Showing Peter Ashman ex B.R. seaman, right.

Royal Oak inside 1970s

Above photo 1970s, kindly sent by Terence Kirk. Showing Jim Percival behind the bar, Len Hopkins in brown sweater ex B.R. cook, Roy Dench in red sweater, ex ship pilot and Peter ????, ex B.R. captain in black sweater at bar.

Royal Oak inside 1970s

Above photo 1970s, kindly sent by Terence Kirk. Resident parrot just seen on the left.

Royal Oak River circa 1980

Royal Oak, River circa 1980 by Barry Smith.

Royal Oak River circa 1990

Above and below photos Royal Oak, River circa 1990 by Barry Smith.

Royal Oak River circa 1990
Royal Oak River 2007

Above photo by Paul Skelton 8th Sept 2007.

Royal Oak Sign 2007

Photo above by Paul Skelton 2007.

Royal Oak sign 1986Royal Oak sign 1993

Royal Oak sign left April 1986, sign right September 1993.

Above with thanks from Brian Curtis


It was a great disappointment to Barry Smith when he could only trace it back to 1907. People assured him that it is older but he unfortunately didn't find the evidence.

The buildings can be dated back to 1797 when it was two cottages, the left hand side being called Rose Cottage.

By 1820 an Edward and Charlotte Halladay were living in the property but it isn't till 1838 that we can say for certain that he was operating the premises as a beer house as the licensee.

On 11 April 1865 the Halliday's purchased the building for 250 from the estate of Thomas Butler, and these title document confirmed that the name of the pub was and had been for many years the "Royal Oak."

Charlotte Pierce Halladay died on 9 June 1891 and in her will and testament the premises was passed over to her daughter Mrs. Amelia Buchanan, by that time the licensee was Edward James Brockman. The property was leased to Ash brewers Gardner and Co for 25 rent per annum. She renews the lease on 12 June 1901 for 36 per annum.

On 19th August 1927 at the Licence Transfer Sessions the "Royal Oak beerhouse," River was transferred from Stephen Smith to Thomas W. Marlow, of the "Royal Oak," River, manager of the above.


Licensees 1927

Above photo showing from left to right, Thomas and Elizabeth Marlow, licensees in 1927, Stephen Smith, landlord from 1899, Gewn Graves his granddaughter, and Derek the postman.

The furniture, stock etc. at this time was valued at 33 2s 7d.


 The full licence was applied for in 1949, and the following year, the full licence of the "Hotel de Paris" was transferred here. The old beer and wine 'on', was then surrendered. It had closed on 11 October 1940 but must have reopened because I note that the wine licence was granted in 1944.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 11 March, 1944.


At the Dover Licensing Sessions on Monday, before Messrs. W. L. Law and H. T. Hawksfield, Mrs. Morecroft and Mrs. Binge.

Mr. A. C. Gardner, representing Gardner and C., Brewers, applied for a wine licence  for the "Royal Oak," River.

Evidence was given that there was a demand for wine amongst woman customers. No objection was raised by the Police.

The application was granted.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 17 October, 1952.

River Cricket 1952


Mr. Dan Borrett, Chairman of the Dover Cricket League, presenting the League Cup to Mr. Ken Smith, captain of the River Club, during a social at the "Royal Oak," River, on Saturday evening. It is the first time River have been League Champions.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, 19 December, 1952.

Transfer Granted

The full transfer of Justices licence of the "Royal Oak," River, from Mr. Walter Richard Munt to Mr. John Dennis, was granted by Dover magistrates on Friday.

Mr. N. W. S. Mitchison, making the application, reminded the magistrates that last Friday Dennis had been convicted of being drunk and disorderly, but added that the brewers were still putting forward Dennis as the licensee. "They feel that he made one mistake," said Mr. Mitchison.



The structure is one of flint, giving the impression of age and the door, up to 1983, still carried the message 'Taproom'. "I belong to the group of people who appreciate horse brasses, polished furniture and a parrot in the corner." That was the picture that year.

Further research by me (Paul Skelton) has since unearthed the following report from the Dover Express, showing its existence in 1889.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 14 June, 1889.


Henry Hanson and Henry Gill were on the same day charged with stealing roses at River. This was a county case heard before Mr. Alderman Finnis, J.P. Mrs. Files, of River, living in one of Mr. Pain's houses adjoining the “Royal Oak,” said that Mr. Pain had a garden there. She saw the two defendants and two others get over the iron fence and begin picking roses. She went and said they must leave off, and they replied “Mind your own business; we shall have as many as we like.” After they had paid Mrs. Files a domicilary visit and wanted to fight her son. The two men who were not present broke off the branches with roses on. They afterwards went towards Dover. Mr. Pain, the owner of the garden, afterwards saw the four men all carrying roses. The defendants were each fined 17s., including costs, or in default 14 days' imprisonment.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 20 December, 1929.


About six o'clock on Thursday evening, Mr. Thomas William Marlow, aged 49 years, the licensee of the "Royal Oak Inn," River, died suddenly. Dr. Adamson, who had been attending Mr. Marlow for some time was sent for, and found life extinct. The facts have been reported to the Coroner, but Dr. Adamson is giving a certificate.


Dover Express 22nd June 1945.

Town, Port & Garrison.

At Dover, on Thursday, Leslie Eric Castle, described as a clerk, of no fixed abode, was remanded until June 29th on a charge of obtaining 10 by false pretences from Leonard Pritchard of the “Royal Oak” public house, River, between May 15th & 21st.


Above photo 1948 showing locals (from left to right) Jack Keeler, Sam Dunford (a market gardener and who used the pub several times a week for 70 years,) Peter Pascall, Les Tems, Bob Dunford (Sam’s brother and partner), Ray Smissen, Bert Chapman.


From the Dover Express, Friday 11 March, 1949.

An application for a full licence in respect of the "Royal Oak," Lower Rd., River, was adjourned until March 28th, for reference to the Licensing Planning Committee.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 17 June, 1949.


Plans for construction of staircase from bar to kitchen were approved by the Magistrates on Friday.



Gardner & Co were brought by Fremlins Whitbread in 1968 sold the premises to them outright on 30 October 1970 for 9,771 19s. 4d, and in turn Shepherd Neame bought the premises of Fremlins Whitbread in 1972.

In 1975 landlord Frank James Percival sells the cottage called Stone Cottage at the rear of the pub to Shepherd Neame and they were knocked through to enlarge the premises.

In 1983 the other cottage to the right of the pub was also amalgamated with the building and the pub closed whilst alterations were taking place.

In 2007 a kitchen extension was also added and the premises was able to offer food.

It is now (2007) the meeting place for The 69 Club, a band of motor-cyclists who regularly meet there on Sunday's after 7.30 in the evening.



I suppose the first encounter I had with wild animals was through my friendship with Owen and Jean Norton of Riverside Farm, now Mannering Close. Of course I had always had dogs, cats, horses of my own. But at that time O and J were keeping and taking care of two monkeys, three foxes, an African cat, a mink, a common seal, two rooks, a gull and owl, apart from their seven dogs, seven cats and a horse.

At that time Riverside Farm was a piggery, some 200 or more, plus few dozen chickens, a goose called Victoria, some game birds and nine goats. Of all these animals the African green monkey named Topsail (pronounced Tops'l) was the greatest character. She had been brought back from Africa by a sailor who had saved her from being shot. Taken to live in a London flat, lack of activity and being left alone did not go down very well with her. On one occasion she decided to investigate how the television was put together, and was found to have taken the back out and taken it to pieces. This did not make her too popular, the next problem was getting loose in the kitchen and going along the shelves tipping everything off - rice, flour, you name it.

Needless to say, a new home had to be found. An advert was placed in The Times. A friend went to collect her and on the train home she was of great interest to passengers as she stood on his lap looking out of the carriage window. She settled in a treat at Riverside and look great interest in the other animals. Poppy and Fawny the farm cats, that never seemed to leave the barn area, had a kitten called Lizzie. Tops'l found her fascinating. She would pick her up for a cuddle and fuss over her fur, and kept Lizzie looking immaculate. They became inseparable. Three times Tops'l's size was Skippy, a Patas monkey, also known as Hussar or military monkeys. The two of them got along well and would sit together.

In fact all the animals in the place were the best of friends. Yes, even the fox Rupert and the chickens. Rupert had been rescued by the RSPCA from under a hedge. He was being stoned by people. Jean had taken care of him and took him out everywhere she went. He lived in a kennel under the caravan and, being well fed, the most a chicken received was a feather plucked from its tail if it went to peck food from his dish.

Laura the seal, in much the same circumstances, had been picked up from the beach at St Margarets, left behind by the tide. She was just a baby, again brought to Riverside to be taken care of. She was fed through a rubber tube on goals milk and oil. A large round galvanized tank was made for her to swim in. When she flopped about the place she made great friends with one of the dogs. They always seemed to be together.

In summer Tops'l lived outside; she had her little box type house and one of her favourite possessions was a large round hand mirror. On a cool day and in the winter she sat on the locker seat beside the stove in the caravan. The stove was a small kitchener and she would sit holding the damper as though she was driving a steam engine.

She watched the coming and going of everyone and everything. On one occasion she had seen the Landrover with O and J drive out the gate. Somehow she managed to undo the tiny belt from her waist. She had been taken along to the “Royal Oak” at times and Jim Percival, the landlord, knew her well. So off Tops'l went down the road, over the bridge, along by the river, to the Oak. Walked in, jumped up on the bar and started to bripp and cackle, much to everyone's surprise. Jim saw that she was served with a bowl of orange juice, then phoned to say she would like to be collected. We put this down as Tops'ls trips to the pub.


From the Dover Mercury, 29 December 2005. By Graham Tutthill.

Historic flint-built pub is given a 54,000 make-over.

Royal Oak make-over 2005

Royal Oak licensee John Clark with pub regular Sam Dunford, John’s partner Chris Stewart and brewery chief executive Jonathan Neame.

THE Royal Oak at River has reopened following a 56,000 refurbishment from brewer Shepherd Neame.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame officially reopened the pub and was joined by Sam Dunford, a regular at the Royal Oak for over 60 years. Robin Beresford accepted a cheque for 200 on behalf of the Dover Lions, the pub’s nominated charity.

The mid-18th century flint building in Lower Road has been redecorated inside and out in keeping with the pub’s traditional style. An exposed flint wall inside has been restored and spotlights installed to make it a design feature of the pub.

A new seating area for customers has been created by moving the beer cellar, the kitchen has been enlarged and the toilets refurbished.

Licensees John and Chris Clark collect funds for six local charities from donation boxes on the bar and a regular Wednesday night quiz for customers.

“We’ve been inundated with customers recently,” said John. “Our simple formula of good food, good beer and good company is really paying off.”

The Royal Oak’s menu ranges from simple sandwiches to monkfish and sea bass and more unusual meals - including ostrich - freshly cooked to order.


From the Dover Mercury, 21 May, 2008.

Much-loved biker vicar dies at 89.

by Graham Tutthill

MOTORCYCLISTS are expected to turn out in force next month for a memorial service for Fr .Bill Shergold, who died on Sunday aged 89.

Father Bill ShergoldFr Bill, affectionately known as Farv, was a keen motoryclist himself, and set up both the 59 Motorcycle Club in London and the 69 Motorcycle Club in Dover.

He last visited Dover in 2006 for a Pentecost service at Charlton Church, where he was Rector more than 30 years ago.

It had been hoped he might have been able to attend the 69 Motorcycle Club's 40th anniversary service and party on June 20.

Born in October 1919, Bill Shergold went to St Chad's College in Durham and gained a Bachelor of Arts degree.

He trained for the ministry at the College of the Resurrection at Mirfield, was made a deacon in 1942 and a priest in 1943. He was Curate at All Saints', Poplar, in the east end of London from 1942 to 1949, then served as Vicar of Hanworth until 1958 when he was appointed to Hackney Wick, and then in 1964 to Paddington until 1969.

Described as a pleasant, cultured and quiet man, he became the unlikely champion of motorcyclists and established the 59 Motorcycle Club in 1959.

When he moved to Dover in 1969, local motorcyclists were quick to make contact and he agreed to form the 69 Club.

He was vicar of the former St Hart's Church in Templar Street until it closed and then became Priest in Charge of Charlton, and Rector of the parish, until 1978. He moved to Tunstall, near Sittingbourne, retiring in 1984. Returning to London, he was honorary curate at Poplar for the next eight years, retiring, again, to the Chichester Diocese and finally moving to Wells in Somerset in 2000, continuing to officiate at services.

The link between the motorcycle club and Charlton Church has continued with the current priest, the Rev Colin Johnson, who is also a keen motorcyclist. During the winter months club members have refurbished and redecorated the church hall.

Mr Johnson said: "The service on June 20 will now take the form of a memorial and thanksgiving service for Fr Bill's life, work and ministry.

"One of his last wishes was that we should have bikes in church ... lots of them! We shall be obeying his request."


From the Dover Mercury, 25 June, 2009.

Revved up to remember Farv

by Graham Tutthill

FATHER Bill Shergold would have loved it!

A long line of motorcycles outside the church, several strategically placed inside the building, and the current parish priest, Father Colin Johnson, riding his bike straight down the central aisle ...

The service, held at Charlton Church on Saturday, was originally intended to mark the 40th anniversary of the 69 Motorcycle Club in Dover.

But when the club's founder, Father Bill - affectionately known as Farv - died last month, aged 89, members decided to turn it into a service of thanksgiving and remembrance to mark his life and ministry.

Cllr Sue JonesAnd they did him proud. Some bikers travelled from London, where Father Bill originally set up the 59 Motorcycle Club, to take part in the service. And a former member of the 69 Club, Dover Mayor Cllr Sue Jones, was there too, complete with her chain of office over the leather jacket she used to wear in her motorcycling days, emblazoned with the 69 Club badge!

Bikes of all descriptions were parked outside the church as their owners took their seats in the church for the service, recalling the life of an extraordinary man.

Former club chairman Dick Pascoe, who was unable to attend, sent a message saying how he and fellow biker Mick Ray went to see Father Bill in 1969 when he arrived in Dover to ask about setting up the club.

"Farv had a calm, peaceful outlook on life but with an extra quality that enabled him to reach out to young people," he said.

"A quiet and unassuming man, he had a calming influence on those who might have been trouble makers and he was well respected by all the members, no matter what background they came from."

Father Colin said Father Bill never forgot that he was a priest. "He welcomed motorbikes into his church, which was previously unheard of," he said.

"When he heard this service was being planned to mark the 40th anniversary of the club he said we had to get as many bikes in as possible."

As well as riding his bike through the church, Father Colin blessed the bikes and the bikers.

Mayoress Ronnie Philpott read one of the lessons. A party to celebrate the club's anniversary was held on Saturday evening at "Crabble Corn Mill".

Fathe Colin Johnson

Father Colin Johnson rides his bike into church at the start of the service.


Information received in November 2011 says the pub is for sale and the leasehold is 14,500.

Latest news I have heard 18 February 2012, for sale signs on their web site have been removed.

Open again thank goodness and new owner John Barton has bought the premises from Cantia Public Houses Limited


From the Dover Express, Thursday, 29 March, 2012. 65p. Report by Sam Inkersole


Steve Waymark and chef Sabi Sztanko

CHEERS: New Royal Oak pub landlord Steve Waymark (left) with chef Sabi Sztanko

Landlord quits chain to run the Royal Oak

PUBGOERS in River are toasting to the future after a new face took the reins of a well-known public house.

Steve Waymark is now running The "Royal Oak" pub in River after leaving his position at the "Eight Bells" pub in Dover after seven years of loyal service.


Mr Waymark, 56, said that he fancied a change of scenery and that the opportunity to have a more of a say in running the pub, rather than working for a major chain, was a factor in his move across town.

The father of two used to work on cruise ships before entering the pub industry. He says if you have been in any pubs across the county, he has probably been either behind the bar or connected to it in some way.

Mr Waymark said: “I think one of the only places I haven't been involved with a pub is around Dartford.

“I am really looking forward to working here in River - it is a great pub and the regulars I have already met are fantastic. “Regulars are very important to pub owners and I am going to make sure they always enjoy their time in here.

“They are happy to see a new face behind the bar.”

Mr Waymark added: “Running the "Eight Bells" was fun but I have a lot more freedom here to do what I want, when I want, which can only be a good thing.”

He describes The "Royal Oak" as being “like a country pub but in a big village”.


He added: “It has got great character but we do have some plans in place to spruce the pub up a bit.

“We will be arranging fundraising events to help us along but I obviously need permission from Shepherd Neame before any work can be done.

“The pub trade is dwindling in the UK but there is still a good core of pubs, particularly around Dover, that are doing well and I want to continue that success here in River”


From the Dover Mercury, 8 November 2017.

The Royal Oak in River was sold for 215,000 at property auction.

Royal Oak 2017

The former Royal Oak pub and restaurant at Lower Road, River, which was sold freehold for 215,000.

It might now have one of a number of commercial uses but could also be developed with planning permission.


Shepherd Neame owned the building till 29 November 2017 when John Barton bought it and it now serves as an untied freehouse.


From the By Charlie Harman, 23 May 2020.

The Royal Oak in River's manager Lee Sansum sings Covid-19 cover of Billy Joel's Piano Man.

A pub manager has lamented the lack of customers in a Covid-19 cover of Billy Joel's Piano Man.

The comical rendition was performed by Lee Sansum behind the bar of The Royal Oak in River, where he is a manager.

Mr Sansum has been spending the lockdown with his girlfriend Elizabeth Covatti, and the parody came about as a way of tackling the tedium.

The 34-year-old said: "I was just bored really, missing the punters - living in an empty pub is pretty lonely.

"I thought Piano Man was fitting, it mentions the locals staggering in but of course coming in. Plus it's just a good song."

He said he's not had any singing training, but admitted: "I like a bit of karaoke every now and again but that's about it."

Singing's not the only thing the couple have been doing to enrich their time during quarantine.

Lee Sansum 2020

Lee Sansum has vowed to not shave until he can reopen the pub.

As the stored beer neared its use by date he put what was left on a table outside and invited people to give a donation in return for it, an effort that raised 90 for the Dover Athletics Club.

He noted: "We've also done car washes in the car park for the club, I'm the chairman of the supporters club so it's very close to my heart.

"Overall we've raised 300 for them during the lockdown, which is great because they really need support during this time."

He and his girlfriend have also been looking after dogs for key workers while they're at work.

One of the highlights of the last couple of months was a mini-'getaway' the pair took.

Lee and Elizabeth have also given free meals to those who need them or in self-isolation.

Lee said: "My girlfriend's been working from home, so she booked a week off and we camped in the beer garden.

"We did our shopping for the week and didn't leave the pub at all after that. We just barbecued and made the best of the situation."

The creative crooner has decided not to shave until he re-opens the pub, perhaps with a tonic and gin in hand.



HALLADAY Edward 1838-65+ (also schoolmaster age 69 in 1861Census)

BUCHANAN Amelia Mrs 1891

BROCKMAN Edward James 1889-1899 (also brickmaker age 49 in 1891Census) Pikes 1889Pike 1890Piks 1891Pikes 1895Pikes 1896-7Pikes 1898Pikes 1899

SMITH C 1899-1900 Pikes 1899-1900

SMITH Stephen 1901-Aug/27 (also bricklayer age 41 in 1901Census) Dover ExpressPikes 1924 beer retailer

HOPKINS John 1911 (listed as License Holder age 44 in 1911Census)

MARLOWE Thomas William Aug/1927-Dec/29 Dover Express

MARLOWE Mrs Elizabeth Jane (Widow) Feb/1930-32+ Dover ExpressPikes 1932-33

GOOCH Victor Sidney 1937-40 end (age 37 in 1939) Pikes 1938-39


BOWLEY Alfred William Philip to Feb/1948 Next pub licensee had Pikes 48-49Dover Express

WILLIAMS Thomas Feb/1948-50 end Dover ExpressKelly's Directory 1950

MUNT Walter Richard 1950-53 end Kelly's Directory 1953 Full license approved Aug 1950

DENNIS John 1953-Feb/54 end Dover Express

PERCIVAL Fred James Feb/1954-83 end Kelly's Directory 1956Dover ExpressLibrary archives 1974 Shepherd Neame

Last pub licensee had WHEELAGHAN John 1983-87+

RUSSELL Paula & MILNER Jodie 2000-03

SALTER Pauline 2003

Last pub licensee had CLARK Mr John 2003-Mar/12

Last pub licensee had WAYMARK Steve Mar/2012-Nov/2017

BARTON John (owner) 29/Nov/2017-18+

WEYERS Craig (licensee) 29/Nov/2017-18+

SANSUM Lee 2020+


I believe that Alfred Bowley was manager to Messrs Gardner & Co, brewers, so may have been just a holding manager at the time.


Pikes 1889From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1889

Pike 1890From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1890

Piks 1891From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1891

Pikes 1895From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1895

Pikes 1896-7From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1896-97

Pikes 1898From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1898

Pikes 1899From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1899

Pikes 1899-1900From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1899-1900

Pikes 1924From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1924

Pikes 1932-33From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1932-33

Pikes 1938-39From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1938-39

Pikes 48-49From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1948-49

Kelly's Directory 1950From the Kelly's Directory 1950

Kelly's Directory 1953From the Kelly's Directory 1953

Kelly's Directory 1956From the Kelly's Directory 1956

Library archives 1974Library archives 1974

Dover ExpressFrom the Dover Express


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