The time now in Ruislip
The Woodman is situated in Breakspear Road a little way up from the crematorium on the outskirts of Ruislip.
Two bars, an arbour out the front with tables under from which you can watch the traffic amble by and the odd horse going towards the stables up the road, is this the best kept secret in Ruislip? Well given that the traffic never ambles and as such the horse can bolt and there is a busy and tricky junction almost opposite perhaps not.
Nevertheless this pub has remained unchanged for many, many years and is perhaps the only "real" public house in Ruislip, in the true sense of what we all think a public house should be.
Where it is, by road
On the outskirts of Ruislip. From the centre of Ruislip follow signs to Harefield/Rickmansworth (or Ruislip Crematorium). These will take you on to Bury Street. Leaving Ruislip High Street the road climbs a small hill then descends in to a dip, there are houses on both sides and you will pass The Plough on your right. In the dip to your left is a petrol station (not to be confused with what was a petrol station on your right) and just before it a left turn. This is Breakspear Road, turn left here. Pass the crematorium on your right and the pub is a little way up on the left. There is car parking to the side or rear, or take the turn to the left just before the pub and the street should yield spaces.
Telephone Number - 01895 635763
E-mail the pub
Web links that may interest you
Pub's own web site
Food go to the Pub's own web site for details
Access via public transport
Not great. H13 from Ruislip tube to the stop just before Ruislip Lido on Bury Street and then walk up Breakspear Road from there following the signs for the crematorium, continue past it and The Woodman may be found on your left. About a 15 minute walk from where the bus dropped you off. Alternatively take the 331 and alight from the stop near the Crematorium/pub. There is continuous pavement to this point on Breakspear Road.
Pub Crawl Potential
Not bad, but you are faced with a dilemma! You could come out of the pub and turn left and walk up to the Breakspear Arms but to go on to any other pub involves a fairly lengthy walk back past The Woodman again and there is not a continuous pavement. Best bet is to walk back towards Ruislip down Breakspear Road to Bury Street and left up to the Six Bells, then down Reservoir Road (almost opposite the Six Bells) to the Waters Edge and if time allows return from the Waters Edge to Bury Street and turn left up to The Plough. Total walk between pubs a little over one mile and you finish this crawl very close to where the H13 dropped you off! Alternatively it stops right outside the Waters Edge. BUT if you know the back roads The Plough can be reached reasonably quickly via Howletts Lane, Bury Avenue and St Catherine's Road.
Ruislip Online review
This pub seems like it is just as it was many many years ago and time and "progress" have not been seen here. It still has two bars, both of about equal size, one a public and one a lounge. It has small stools and chairs with padded tops in the posh side, more basic in the public side. It has coal fires, it has brass, it has wallpaper....
It is a quintessentially English pub in every sense of the word and deserves to be visited NOW before somebody takes it by the scruff of the neck and changes things in the name of profit. It is there to remind us all what a country pub is like, yet it is on our own doorstep. It needs putting in a bottle and selling to the Americans.
Yet you and I, and I suspect many who live in Ruislip, ignore it. Why? I guess because we forget it is there, we ignore the fact that it is not brash and bold. There are no tacky signs entice us in, so we don't go there. It is the duty of every person in Ruislip to go to this pub more often, if it were miles away we would all make a special effort to drive there, but as it is on our doorstep we don't. We should. It is the last connection we have in Ruislip pubs with a time gone by.
But is there an Achilles heel? Well yes there is, but it is all the better for that. Whoever decided that a red Formica bar in the saloon side was a good idea was wrong....
The pub is local to Breakspear Crematorium and visitors to the area (or indeed locals) might find it a suitable place to hold a family gathering after a service.
However, the buffet lunch option is not offered only to those that have attended the crematorium, you might like to consider this pub for any type of small family lunchtime gatherings...
Please note that the pub does not accept credit cards and that it is possible that other customers may be present in the lounge bar (where any functions are held) depending on the time of day (although generally locals if they see that a function is taking place will just go in the the public bar)
Visitors views (click to submit)
The pictures below were kindly supplied by Doug Waller. His memories of being a regular in the Woodman are as follows (as edited by Ruislip Online)
Having lived in Ruislip for 16 years but now living in Wales, may I say how nice it was to see a picture of The Woodman, Breakspear Road on your site.
This was my watering hole for most of my Ruislip days during the late 70's and all the 80's. The house was run by Mike & Bebe (brother & sister) to a very high standard and appreciated by all clientele. Many good true friends were made in The Woodman and I remember them all but most of all I remember a pint of "London Pride". Mike, as I remember, was always reluctant to replace the worn out dartboard!
Photograph of The Woodman before substantial alterations took place (see details below), probably taken in the mid 1950's.
The white sign over the door on the left seems to read John Davis...
Enlargement of the sign that can be seen between the two windows above.
The old photograph of the Woodman, was taken about 1954/5 on the original you can just see the name of John Davis over the public bar door, and you can also read the words saloon bar on the second door, the third door was the entrance to the living quarters, so gives an idea of just how small the original, drinking part was. John Davis had a daughter whose name was Eve or Eva, she ran the pub for a short while prior to Ernie Tucker taking over.
The saloon bar had one round table, a couple of wooden chairs, plus a very old leather settee, under the front window, which once you sat in it, rather than on it, I was nigh on impossible to get back up unaided.
The public bar had just hard bench seating and a couple of plain wooden tables, to rest your beer on, or play dominos, with stone flooring and a fireplace, so very basic, so relied entirely regular and friendly customers.
After Emie Tucker took over, and the pub enlarged, "no drinking days lost while alterations were taking place", a darts team was formed and played in the St Vincent hospital league, but all the Ruislip regulars were also experts at shove-halfpenny, which always turned out a good evenings entertainment.
The picture below is the 7th Ruislip Rover Crew, enjoying a pre Christmas day drink, in 1954, seated and standing around the table in the old Saloon Bar, (please note the gas pipe and lamp mounted over the fireplace), after walking from various addresses in Ruislip Manor.
They did not knock the old pub down in order to "modernise", the builders just started at the old public bar end, and slowly worked their way through, moving the drinking public along as they went. Part of the old public bar became the toilets, and the entrance to the upstairs was to the rear of the toilets.
There were a few odd things when it was finished, in the lounge upstairs over the new public bar the window were about 4' 6'' above the floor level making it difficult for a short person to look out of, and when seated offered no view what so ever. This was a pity because it would have been one of the last country, rural, aspects, left in Breakspear Road.
Ernie Tucker had his own building business before buying the
Woodman, so perhaps he had some sort of dealings, or input with the Harmans
brewery's builders who, if my memory serves me right were Anchard &
Ernie Tucker had three sons all living in Ruislip some time ago, (not far from the pub) somebody may know where they live, and could offer more detail.
I am delighted that there are people out there who still show an interest in the workings of what was just a few years ago, a country pub, with a Beer / Ales only licence that enabled the Ruislip farm workers some where to eat their "ploughman's" lunch, and partake of a pint.
The picture above shows the pub before the arbour was put on the front of it. It is actually a business card, where on the reverse it reads.
|Telephone Ruislip 5763||Fully Licensed|
|There's always something to eat||Mr. & Mrs. E J Tucker
I was intrigued, and quite proud, to find the slot on your website for The Woodman in Breakspear Road.
Reference is made to the whereabouts of Ernie Tucker's sons, so I thought I ought to drop you a line. I'm one of them ! Actually we also have a sister Marion who emigrated to Canada in 1955 where she has a very much grown up and extended family. We keep in touch on a regular basis.
I'm Robert ( Bob ) the youngest son of Ernie Tucker and lived at the pub from 1959 when my Dad took over the license until I left to get married to Jill Kirby from Mill Hill in 1968. I left Ruislip to live in Tring, Hertfordshire where Jill and I still live, having had two sons James and Alex and where I have set up my own business as a consulting structural engineer. My oldest brother Frank also lived at The Woodman until he got married, to Betty, in 1972, when he move to Glasgow where he still lives. My other brother, Mick still lives in Ruislip, not far from The Woodman, in the house that our Dad built, I believe, in the 1930's. Dad was managing director of the Bury Building Company, who had an office in Bury Street, which he also built and which is now the Majestic Wine Store. Bury Building was quite successful during the post war years up until the time he decided to become the licensee at The Woodman. Although he started out working life in the building trade (as a plasterer) ultimately establishing quite a large organisation , his mother was a publican, in Harefield, being the licensee of The Mines Royal. I believe his uncle was also a publican, I think at The Plough, also in Harefileld, many years before. So, the pub trade was in his blood and it was probably inevitable that he would return to the family tradition at some time.
I was 15 years old when we moved to The Woodman, having lived in the family house until that time. Initially, the accommodation was pretty rough and ready. I remember it being in need of a lot of care and attention. I believe that Dad only took on the license knowing that the brewery had plans to carry out extensive modifications to the bars and the accommodation for our family. At the outset the license only allowed the sale of beer, it was only after the alterations were carried out that the license extended to spirits. Profit margins on beer were quite low and so the initial income was fairly minimal. As a 15 year old I thought it was all a big adventure and as soon as I was old enough to drink in the bar ( Dad was pretty strict about that ) it was great place to meet my mates!
The original bars were very small, especially the Saloon bar which had a central circular table which seemed to occupy most of the room . You can see this in the picture of the "7th Ruislip Rover Crew". The ceilings were also very low and, in the Public bar, where the dart board was situated, the darts left scrapes in the ceiling which was, typically, a delightful shade of cigarette smoke stained dark yellow!
The alterations were indeed carried out without the pub closing and there were occasions when a hole in the ceiling would appear and plaster dust would drop into the customers beer below. Not something the current Health and Safety Executive would be terribly happy with today but, at the time, a sort of blitz mentality prevailed and everyone accepted that it was all in a good cause!
So, in the early sixties, we moved into the modern age and the new look Woodman ( equipped with the red Formica saloon bar counter ! ) quickly became a very popular venue. We had an active darts team in which I played on a few occasions with limited success. Shove ha'penny was also popular along with the usual dominoes and cribbage sessions. At festive times, especially Christmas the bars would be heaving and I can remember a number of occasions when the serving area was awash with slopped beer as we were rushing to serve customers. We had a number of staff, and both my brothers and I helped out at various times.
When I last visited the Woodman a few months ago, I was pleased to see that there is picture of Dad in the saloon bar, offering a pint of beer to a donkey who for some obscure reason had been brought into the public bar ! I imagine that one of the customers might have said to Ernie, "that's a bit unusual isn't it ?" to which Dad could have replied "yes, he usually has a whisky !"
I'll keep a watch on your website and would be pleased to see if any customers from the 1960's, or indeed any other periods, remember days or evenings spent at The Woodman.
Best Wishes Robert (Bob) Tucker, Tring, 16th April 2008
I was born and raised in the house on the opposite corner of Howletts Lane, “Oakleigh”. Those three houses were built in 1908 by my great grandfather, who was probably called George, as were my grandfather and father. As neighbours, my family (Coster) knew the Tuckers well. I vaguely remember them as a small kid in the early 1970’s. Then they retired, and a guy who always wore a bow tie took over. I don’t remember his name. I remember the red Formica bar though!
Pete Coster, Denver, Colorado, USA.
Yes, it is the only real pub left in Ruislip!
The red bar has a hatch, you know, the lifting up kind that Del Trotter falls through. Well if you lift it up and look on what was the underside you can see what colour the bar really was before it faded!!! Ask, I dare you!