To round off EastEnders’ 35th anniversary week, a wander through the history of one of soap opera’s famous locations in Home Time. This edition heads to 46 Albert Square, Walford, London, E20 6PQ.
The Queen Victoria pub located on Albert Square, named after the monarch’s husband, was built in the 1860s with the first landlord and landlady noted as being Mr and Mrs Bagstock. Like the majority of who have operated the boozer it was a sour end for their reign at the Queen Vic when he drowned his missus in the bath.
The next noted couple to run the bar were Ray and Lil Sewell during the 1930s and 40s. Viewers saw this couple in the 1988 EastEnders wartime spin-off Civvy Street with Ray played by Robert Putt and Lil by Frances Cuka.
Minty fresh, the Queen Vic exterior in the 1940s during the second world war, as seen in Civvy Street.
Den and Angie Watts were the first on screen tenants when EastEnders hit the air in 1985, with their tenure said to have begun ten years earlier. With adopted daughter Sharon and pet poodle Roly, they seemed the happiest of families. But behind the bar things were far from perfect.
Den, Angie and Sharon Watts in 1985.
Den (Leslie Grantham), a local small time wheeler dealer ran the Luxford & Copley brewery owned boozer with his alcoholic wife Angie (Anita Dobson) until their marriage fell apart in 1986, she’d faked a terminal illness to keep her man, but instead it drove them to divorce. For a spell Angie worked in rival bar The Dagmar while Den moved his mistress into The Vic.
There was a brief return for the Watts at the Vic but by 1989 there was a new family in the boozer. Den’s final venture in Walford was running Strokes wine bar, a front for a criminal gang called ‘The Firm”. It was a big mistake for Den, ultimately in order to live he had to fake his own death.
The Queen Vic in various shades of brown, as it had been from 1975.
Frank (Mike Reid) and Pat Butcher (Pam St.Clement) tried their hand as Landlord and landlady in 1988 in a two year reign at the boozer. However Frank’s business interests grew and a change in 1990 saw the couple move over to a fully-owned B&B in the square. The B&B was also a perfect business for Pat and Frank to bring up his family including son Ricky and daughter Janine.
The Butcher businesses also included Pat Cabs, a taxi firm, and a car sales lot.
For a brief time Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) and Pat’s son Simon ‘Wicksy’ Wicks (Nick Berry) ran The Vic until a new brewery tenant took it over.
Frank and Pat Butcher had a short stay at the public house.
Eddie Royle (Michael Melia) was an even shorter-lived landlord on behalf of the brewery.
Arriving in 1990 he set about changing everything about the pub – even its name. He alienated the regulars, annoyed barmaid Sharon Watts and annoyed even-more her hubby-to-be Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp). In 1991 before the sign-less boozer could get its new name – Eddie was murdered by drug addict Nick Cotton (John Altman) in Albert Square.
Luckily for the next owners they’d saved the lettering from the pub exterior, which came in handy when putting the name back in its rightful place.
Eddie Royle wasn’t keen on the pub name.
After the demise of Eddie Royle The Vic was sold off by the brewery to the Mitchell family, at that time consisting of Sharon and Grant and his brother Phil. (Steve McFadden).
When Eddie had ditched the name, Grant saved the lettering for Sharon and hung it up in their arches car garage. It was restored to the pub and The Queen Victoria was back in action.
In 1992 the pub is entirely renovated following Grant burning the place down for insurance, nearly smoking out Sharon in the process. It wasn’t to be a long-lived tenure as Sharon began an affair with Phil which ended her marriage to Grant.
Love triangle, Phil and Brother Grant living with Sharon was bound to be a lusty business in the Vic.
In 1994 the Mitchell brothers had their mother Peggy (Barbara Windsor) buy-into the bar, she would become the longest serving landlady of the Queen Victoria in its long history. There were others who bought in and sold out over the years but Peggy remained as the central figure for most of the time. In 1999 former landlord Frank Butcher married Peggy and for a spell joined her in the bar.
In 2001 Frank left Peggy with mounting debts and she for a time is forced to sell the pub – to Steve Owen (Martin Kemp) or so Peggy thought, in actual fact it was a joint purchase between Steve and Peggy’s much disliked former daughter-in-law Sharon. Sharon running her former childhood family home once again proved short lived.
Peggy Mitchell became the queen of the Vic.
Over intermitting spells there had been other ‘shareholders’ involved with the bar including Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass).
In 2002, After Angie Watts died in Spain, Sharon decided to make a new start without The Vic, and sold her share to Phil. Peggy was back in charge, with Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) hired as manager.
Sharon then ventured into the nightclub business buying up the E20 club and rebranding it as Angie’s Den in tribute to her parents. Little did Sharon know then that not all was as it seemed with her adoptive father.
Chrissie and Den Watts.
In 2004, Den Watts – back from his fake death – tricked his way into gaining ownership of the The Queen Vic, but within a few months he was killed by his second wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman). This time it really was the end for Dirty Den, who in February 2005 was buried under the pub’s store room floor.
Following his death the boozer was left to his heir Sharon, who sold it to Peggy and Phil Mitchell wanting nothing more to do with the cursed premises.
Sharon had several spells behind the bar of the Vic.
Christmas Eve 2009 saw Peggy’s estranged husband Archie Mitchell and his new fiancée Janine Butcher take over the establishment, with Archie having taken advantage of the Mitchell’s finances being on a downswing. Later on Christmas Day, Archie chucked out scheming Janine. He was later murdered by Stacey Branning who used the Queen Vic Bust to smash in his head.
In Archie’s will, he left the business to daughter Roxy Mitchell; however she struggled to run the bar and after a few months trying decided enough was enough.
In September 2010, admitting defeat Roxy signs the pub back to Peggy, making her the owner of the Vic for the second time, and landlady for a fourth time.
Grant, Peggy and Phil.
In 2010 Peggy bid Walford farewell following the pub’s second blaze and a family falling apart. Phil had set fire to The Vic in a drug fuelled rage, Peggy was left heartbroken by both the mental decline of her son and the ruined beloved boozer.
Departing for pastures new she handed over ownership to Phil who decided to rent the pub to ex-bar manager Alfie Moon and his wife Kat making them the new landlord and landlady as well as the licensees.
For a cheeky cockney chap, there wasn’t much of a knees-up in the Vic with his time proving one long line of heartache, especially when his marriage to Kat (Jessie Wallace) fell apart. Her affair saw her leave the boozer, but Alfie was perked up by his next wife, and previous landlady Roxy. They try to make a go of both love and Vic, but it doesn’t last. Neither does Kat’s return to the bar when a reunion with Alfie its cut from under them when Phil decides to sell off the pub.
Alfie and Kat Moon had a stint behind the bar.
Christmas 2013 sees current landlord and landlady Mick (Danny Dyer) and Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) buy the free house. They’re the brother and sister-in-law of already established character Shirley Carter (Linda Henry).
Moving in as a family, The Carters have had just as much a turbulent time behind the bar as many of the others who have gone before them, most recently Linda has been battling a booze addiction while Mick has suffered with anxiety. There have been several issues with their children and extended family including the insane Aunty Babe (Annette Badland).
Ownership wise it has been just as fluid as previous years with Mick’s mum (originally believed to be his sister) bagging herself a 10% stake after securing a loan from Stan (Timothy West). Grafton Hill, a property development company owned by James Willmott-Brown took ownership for a time in 2017 with the intention of demolition for more lucrative flats. Thankfully the boozer ended up back in the Carter ownership before any destruction could commence, although with Linda recovering from alcoholism, whether that will stay the case remains to be seen…
Linda and Mick Carter.
First fire, 1991.
In the red, the revamped exterior after the fire.
The second fire was a much bigger inferno.
2010 and a change of style, the first time since 1991.
Red revamp, in 2014 the pub was given a more Victorian era look.
The Queen Vic bar area, in the 1990s.