Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Bohemia Arms

By David Russell (Feb 2011)

Bohemia Arms

Bohemia Arms

The Bohemia Arms, 78 Bohemia Road The Bohemia Arms first opened in 1867 on the corner of Tower Road and Bohemia Road and for most of its life it was a simple beer house. I have received two queries about Gwen Watford and the Prince of Wales pub reported in the last Bohemia Village Voice. YES the famous actress did at one time reside in Bohemia but not at the Prince of Wales as I stated but at the Bohemia Arms, two doors away.

Percy Watford, Gwen’s father, was the landlord of the Bohemia Arms from 1931-1955 and we know that the family lived there until the end of the Second World War. She made her stage debut, aged seventeen, at The White Rock Theatre, Hastings, before moving to London to train at the Old Vic.

Gwen made her film debut playing Lady Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher (1945) which older residents of Bohemia will recall as a talking point in the bar. Her other films included Cleopatra (1963) and Cry Freedom (1987). Her father Mr Watford, as he liked to be called, is remembered by Bohemia resident, Vic Chalcraft for his pointed and waxed moustache.

The last landlord was twenty-one year old Jim Elvery who, in 1969, was the youngest licensee in Sussex and Kent. The two bars then became a single bar curving around the corner in Tower Road. The Bohemia Arms closed in 1970 and is now ‘In the Pink’. [Update, 14 Nov 2012)

David is interested in your memories and photos of Hastings and St. Leonards Pubs – 01424 200 227

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