Check out this memorable snap of two Kentish Town ladies, Flo and Edie, taken almost sixty years ago. You might, in fact, have seen it framed on the wall of NW5’s famous backstreet boozer.
In case you’re in any doubt, in the Easter bonnet competition of 1964 Flo, pictured on the left, won with her highly imaginative creation. But what exactly does the message say poking out of her hat? Frustratingly we can’t quite make it out, but the portrait reminds us of decades of millinery-based shenanigans on Leverton Street.
As locals know, the Pineapple has always done the four-day weekend better than most: this year, as ever, on Sunday (9th April) there’s the egg hunt, kids’ bonnet-making, the annual Easter Bonnet Parade (3pm), a pasty competition and raffle at 7pm. Not to mention a beer festival all weekend which features a banging selection of London breweries.
And if this black and white shot has got you thinking, history is something this pub does pretty well – right back to 1868 when it opened as a watering hole for the influx of workers on the railways. It had three entrances, an outside gents’ and an exterior sporting pineapples above every window and doorway. Its decorative glass area behind the bar was and still is exquisite: note the mahogany panels advertising wines, brandies and whiskies in gold leaf and painted glass, and two large mirrors etched with pineapples.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. In 2001, landlady Mary Gately sold the business after the death of her husband Sean, on the understanding that the ground floor would remain a pub, with the residential part upstairs being converted into flats. However new owners Crossier Properties lodged a planning application to convert the whole building.
Residents were not to be defeated. On Dec 7 2001 eleven of them met to set up a committee – The Pineapple Rescue Campaign. They managed to rope in stars and celebrities including Jon Snow, Rufus Sewell and Ken Livingstone and it took just eight – count ’em – days for English Heritage to Grade II list the building, both inside and outside, on Dec 18 2001.
The listing stopped the developer in his tracks, and the Pineapple was sold in March 2002 to Francis Powell and his daughter Chloe, who planned to continue running it as a pub. It remained closed for 155 days in total and reopened later that year.
Fast forward to 2023 and, of course, it’s something of an in-the-know tourist attraction as well as neighbourhood hotspot, featuring in almost every guide to London pubs (like this one here).
Now, about that bonnet…
Easter at The Pineapple runs all weekend, with the programme of events from 12pm Sunday, 51 Leverton St NW5, follow @thepineapplepub