A Forest Hill mum is fuming after a plaque commemorating her grandfather’s efforts when a second world war bomb fell was painted over during a refurb of the Crystal Palace pub where it was fixed to the wall.

The sign had been in pride of place on the outside wall of the Paxton Arms Hotel for decades and recalled the story of a World War Two bombing which destroyed the pub.

The sign read: “It was the summer of 1944 when one of Germany’s VI flying bombs landed about halfway down Anerley Hill and put the Paxton Arms out of business.

News Shopper:

The Paxton Arms, as featured in a 1995 edition of News Shopper

“At the time, a young man, John Markham, was enjoying a drink.

“He finished his pint and helped rescue survivors from nearby houses.

“Eleven years later, on 28th December, 1955, Mr Markham was the first to enjoy a drink when the pub reopened after being extensively rebuilt by Taylor Walker.”

A few weeks ago, John Markham’s granddaughter Laura Markham, 29, walked past the pub and saw that the sign was gone.

She told News Shopper: “It’s changed into a tea room from a pub.

“They boarded up all the windows and the sign and I did go in and ask what had happened and I was reassured it was going to be there.

“They’ve painted over the sign and put a menu up.

“It’s called Retro Joe’s now – but they’ve got rid of the sign, and that’s the retro bit.”

Bromley Council has no official record of the John Markham memorial and from a legal standpoint, it is at the owner’s discretion whether they maintain and keep any plaque or memorial sign put up on its walls.

Emma Simpson, who runs Retro Joe’s with her husband, said the sign was painted over last summer by builders.

News Shopper:

The last memory Laura has of the sign - a blurry photograph

She said: “It wasn’t actually us that painted over the sign – it was during building work that it was painted over and they plastered over original shrapnel damage too which we weren’t pleased about.

“It is not a listed building so we don’t have to keep the sign but we think it is important to the history and we want to replace the sign with a memorial that includes all of the people who died in that bomb strike.

“I did put up a replacement sign out front but people kept stealing it – I don’t know why.

“We have tried. There is a memorial to the people affected by the other bomb that hit the area but not here.”

Laura’s dad is now 74 and as her grandparents died when she and her 34-year-old brother James were very young, the story is one of the only things she has to remember her grandad by.

But she also sees it as a vital piece of the past that chronicles the story of Crystal Palace itself.


She said: “That’s all the family we have got on my dad’s side.

“This is all I have got of my family history.

“I’ve got a little boy now and I have taken him and read the story to him.

“When it was the Paxton Arms, my grandad drank there, my dad drank there and my brother drank there – it linked three generations.

“I just want there to be something there still marking what happened.

“Crystal Palace history is coming alive now with the subway reopening – and this is part of that history.

“I just want something back.”