The recent easing of lockdown here and the reopening of pubs reminded me of times when pubs in certain places opened at 06:00 to cater for dock workers
In January 1969 I traveled to Victoria docks to join my 2nd ship as cadet, Canadian Pacifics beaverfir. As my last ship had been a 41700grt tanker, joining a 2911 get cargo ship was a bit of a shock to say the least. At that time the royal docks were full of ships, Blue Star, Glen Line, A boats etc. Struggling along the quay with my huge suitcase that Greenberg's of Liverpool had supplied me one year or so ago, insisting that I would need one that big to carry all the uniforms that I would need for winter and summer plus passenger ship service but now much lighter containing just blues, work clothes and going ashore gear, I eventually found the Beaverfir, a tiddler amongst all the other much larger vessel.
Once on board I was quickly introduced into the joys of cargo watch, hatch opening and closing etc. The deck crowd had not signed off so I was put to work with them, most of them were east Ender's though the cook was Scottish.
On Saturday there was no work so at midday I went ashore, in work clothes, to phone home to let my mother I had got onboard. Whilst in the phone booth some of the deck crowd passed and asked if I wanted to go and have a drink with them, not wanting to appear unfriendly I agreed and was soon knocking back beers and rum chasers with them in the New Gog pub. At closing time we went to one of the sailors home and carried on drinking. There I met with a lovely young girl of my age and was invited to stay there. I eventually staggered back on board hung over and still in my work gear. Going into the officers lounge I was immediately thrown out and banned from it by the mate for being AWOL. I didn't care really so for the rest of the time in port until discharge and loading was completed I spent most nights at that house where all of them got up at O5:00 to start work. I would rise with them, walk back to the ship, stopping for a pint and pie in the station pub and then go to the newsagents to buy the papers before turning up on board by 07:30 full of the joys of spring and captain and mate thinking I was the bees knees for getting up and going ashore for the papers, thinking I was spending my nights in my cabin being a good boy,. Little knowing I was in the pub most nights and kipping at that girls house.
Happy days and the only thing that suffered was my bank balance.
Eventually loading was completed and we sailed for Canada, bouncing across the North Atlantic in stormy weather, going through Belle Isle to Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton to discharge and back load. Returning to London docks I was looking forward to renewing my friendship but it was not to be, she had moved on. Still I was able to enjoy the sights and sounds of London in the late 60's.