February 2012 – The Kentish Drovers

Featured Pub of the month for February 2012 – selected and written by Alan Jepson

The Kentish Drovers, 71-79 Peckham High Street, Peckham SE15 5RS

Mention Peckham to anyone and no doubt the classic eighties sitcom Only Fools and Horses and lovable cockney rogue Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter spring to mind.  In reality, it’s a somewhat different and uncertain area from the series itself and became a victim of last year’s summer riots.  Of course, it has some of the stereotypes you would expect of a South London town such as greasy spoons and cheap outdoor markets.  There is even a Nag’s Head pub on the outskirts but unfortunately no real ale is served.  A large percentage of the community is made up of migrants from Eastern Europe, the African Continent, West Indies and the Far East, making it an intriguing den of iniquity with its shops and cafes.

The Hope, which was the only surviving pub on the high street, closed a couple of years ago to become part of the Paddy Power chain of bookmakers.  Peckham has very few pubs left and those that have survived serve only keg beer.  However, there is one pub that stands out as an oasis in an area which is very much a real ale desert.  Ladies and gentlemen may I present you with The Kentish Drovers, part of the ever expanding JD Wetherspoon chain.

On first entering the premises, it’s easy to imagine Del Boy fitting in here by trying to sell his dodgy goods to the unsuspecting locals, many of whom look as though their other place of occupation is the nearest branch of Ladbrokes but then again, the same could be said for many Wetherspoon pubs.  Rest assured, it is one of the most safest havens to eat and drink in Peckham. Inside the pub are a number of original cast iron pillars, some of which are close to three metres tall. Another remnant from its bank days are the mosaic floor patterns which were presumably once part of the banking hall.

Since Polish born Rob Tokarski took over as manager two years ago, all trouble has virtually disappeared and Rob instigated the pub’s signature cask ale, Jamaica Stout from the Carribean island’s Big City Brewing Company, which is available whenever he can get it or there is a beer festival here.  Like many pubs Wetherspoons chain, Fullers London Pride, Greene King Abbot and Ruddles are permanently on tap with 2-3 regularly changing guest beers from independent brewers, some of which are at 1.95 a pint.  Well worth it in these hard hit economic times.  Overall, the Kentish Drovers is a fine example of a real ale pub that attracts a large Afro-Carribean community.

Meet the Manager

Where were you born?
in Poland, my family are from Tczew which is pronounced T’cheff.  The town is not far from the Gdansk shipyards and is a major rail intersection. Oh its also not far from where the second world war first started

What was your first job?
I joined the Army and set up field telephones

What are your hobbies?
I still love technical gadgets wether its to play games, communicate or to listen to music.  I was last playing LA Noire which is a crime solving game set in 1947.

What do you like to watch on TV?
live stand-up comedy and  sitcoms

What is your favourite sport?
to watch it has to be formula one, but doing, I like to scuba dive and have recently passesd my Autonomous Diver level 2 qualification (level 3 is materdiver).

What is your favouriste real ale?
exmoor gold from the Dartmoor Brewery, though I like lots of different golden beers

If you were not a landlord what would you like to be?
a proffessional dive technician.

What sort of music do you like?
I’m a fan of Adele, her music is magical and real.  I’m certainly no fan of Polish pop-music which is the very opposite

What is your favourite holiday destination?
I love the West Indies, amongst other things the diving there is fabulous.  My wife and I have been to many of its beautiful islands, most recently Genada.

What is your favourite food?
You cant beat a really good chicken tandori-masala