Saturday, 20 October 2012


They’re everywhere!

The Royal Mail small red rubber band is used extensively by the state-owned postal delivery service in the UK. The Royal Mail uses a staggering 1billion rubber bands annually to tie together bundles of letters at sorting offices. In recent years, complaints about Royal Mail rubber bands littering the streets of Britain have given rise to ongoing press interest in this minor cultural phenomenon.

In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request made to the Royal Mail in December 2008, the company disclosed that it used the following numbers of rubber bands in each of the following years:-

2005/06 - 753,480,000

2006/07 - 825,750,000

2007/08 - 871,695,000

2009/10 - 760,000,00

According to the Daily Record  newspaper, costs for rubber bands in the 2007/8 period were £982,677. Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph  showed that between 2007 and 2011, spending on elastic bands increased by 40%. In 2009/2010, this meant that one rubber band was being used for every 28 letters that the Royal Mail delivered.

Complaint and comment on the theme of discarded rubber bands is a recurring focus of media interest. A Times newspaper story in 2006 — "Posties' red rubber bands stretch public's patience"— is fairly typical. It revealed a campaign by the London Borough of Lewisham's mayor complaining that an estimated 5,000 bands are dropped in his borough each month; it highlighted the response to a November 2005 BBC Radio Essex programme in which listeners were asked to send in found rubber bands; allegedly 10,000 were received; and made a range of more or less whimsical suggestions for the re-use of such bands — as rubber balls, "chopsticks for butterfingers" and rubber band tanks.

In April 2009, the Keep Britain Tidy  campaign involved itself in the issue as part of its Big Tidy Up  campaign, and returned some 13,000 bands that had been collected by the public to the Royal Mail. The campaign, together with a similar initiative by the Keep Scotland Beautiful  organisation, once again raised the profile of the issue, garnering coverage in the mainstream press.

The Royal Mail emphasises that it instructs staff to re-use and not to abandon rubber bands, and that in mid-2004 it changed the colour of bands used from brown to red so that that they are easier to spot and retrieve. The Royal Mail has never been fined for rubber band littering; and that contemporary red rubber bands are designed to be more biodegradable than previously used brown bands, so as to lessen the environmental impact. Apparently RM is seeking to redesign certain processes to make the bands obsolete.

The Victoria Inn 
86 Hallgarth Street,
Tel: 0191 386 5269

Monday, 8 October 2012


Would you Adam and Eve it?
The Queen Mum pulling a pint of Young's and then downing her pig's ear in an East End rub-a-dub-dub!
Whatever next? Her Maj parachuting into a sports stadium! The third in line to the throne caught stark-bollock naked in a Nevada hotel? Surely, not!
Well in July 1987 the unthinkable happened. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in one of her many visits to London's East End visited the Queen's Head and not only served herself a pint of Young's but was game enough to quaff it, proclaiming "Never mind the champagne, this is much better!”.
It had not been part of the protocol for the day of course, but the Queen Mother proved a willing barmaid. At one time a polished brass plaque commemorating this event was sited on the pillar next to the handpump she used - is it still there? A photograph of the pint pulling episode seemed to feature in just about every Young's pub soon after, as I remember...

It has been suggested that York Square (pictured), on the corner of which sits the Queen's Head, was the model for Albert Square in BBC TV's EastEnders, and that the Queen's Head is actually the pub the Queen Vic was based on.  I don't know about that, but the pub is a Grade II-listed building (built 1855) in an elegant Georgian residential square of Regency style terraced houses. The square was given conservation status in 1973 and this was further extended in area to form the York Square Conservation Area of 2008.
In the mid 1980's the CAMRA East London and City Beer Guide described the pub as one of only two Young's pubs in Tower Hamlets (the other was/is the Coborn Arms which was taken over by Young's in 1984), and the QH was popular with locals, with darts available in the Public Bar (one of two rooms). The fact it was tied to Young's brewery was its USP as far as I was concerned. It could be cliquey though... 
Without a doubt the QH is what you would once call a typical East End boozer, off Commercial Road and near Limehouse.

Since the substantial redevelopment of London's East End in the Docklands, together with the encroachment of the City to beyond Aldgate East, a lot, in fact a helluva lot of traditional pubs like the Queen's Head have gone.
It now seems that the Queen’s Head is facing closure as part of a wider property sell-off by Tower Hamlets Council. The pub is being put up for sale along with the Blue Anchor in Bow and the Old Ship in nearby Shadwell. The future of the pub is uncertain as new owners have the opportunity to either continue the lease or end it and redevelop the site, as has happened to countless other pubs in the area.


Queen's Head
  8 Flamborough Street,
Tel: 0207 791 2504
Nearest tube: Limehouse DLR
'Buses: 15, 115, 135, D3