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The best pub in Bromley where the people are so friendly that phone calls are banned

The Cockpit in Chislehurst was named best in Bromley by Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) because of its friendly atmosphere, unusual rules and its most unique trait – it is based inside a florist.

Locals rave about how sociable The Cockpit is, all of them noting that everyone chats and make friends as their top reason for loving the pub.

One of the ways The Cockpit team has managed to foster this kind of environment is through fining people one pound for taking phone calls while there, donating all of the money to Marjorie McClure, a special educational school in Chislehurst.

This Is Local London: Adam Miller and Reeva Steadman from The Cockpit in ChislehurstAdam Miller and Reeva Steadman from The Cockpit in Chislehurst (Image: Emma Fradgley)

The pub opened back in 2020, and only six days after opening its doors it was forced to close as the UK went into its third lockdown.

However, in those short and sweet six days The Cockpit had already built up a base of loyal customers.

This Is Local London: Marlow the dog inside of The Cockpit at ChislehurstMarlow the dog inside of The Cockpit at Chislehurst (Image: Emma Fradgley)

The fine also applies to anyone swearing in the pub in order to keep the atmosphere family friendly.

Another reason The Cockpit has proven so popular is the unusual combination of beer and flowers.

This Is Local London: The Cockpit in Chislehurst: A pub based inside of a floristThe Cockpit in Chislehurst: A pub based inside of a florist (Image: Emma Fradgley)

Adam told the News Shopper that he knew the owner of the florist, Ceri Lethbridge, was looking to downsize and he was convinced that her florist was the perfect spot for a micropub.

He said: “The flowers making it look nice and pretty adds to the homeliness of it – Ceri is a massive asset to us at The Cockpit.

“It kind of came together naturally and it works naturally.”

This Is Local London: The best pub in Bromley: The Cockpit, a pub inside of a floristThe best pub in Bromley: The Cockpit, a pub inside of a florist (Image: Emma Fradgley)

Stuart Mayell, a volunteer at CAMRA, also believes The Cockpit to be a gem in Chislehurst.

He said: “You only have to look around it you know – it doesn’t look like a traditional pub.

“I mean, I don’t think I’ve seen a traditional pub with a florist but also you know it feels much more like a homely space.”

Interview with Adam Miller: Manager of The Cockpit

How did you feel watching the news and knowing that we were going back into lockdown?

“I think by that point it was a long sigh.

“It wasn’t the big panic that happened when the country was first locked down in March.

“It was a kind of, we were all feeling more optimistic so it was a punch in the gut but what can you do?

“You can only stay positive.

“We had the plan, so we still went around delivering beer to people, making sure everyone was well watered and just played it patient.

“We knew one day we would come out and it would be the pub we wanted it to be.”

Was there ever a moment that you thought you couldn’t keep going?

“No, but it’s not in our character.

“We’re all quite strong minded and if we want to get to a goal we will get there.”

How are you feeling about going up for best pub in London?

“It’s nerve-wracking but it would be wicked.

“The thing is, being Londoner myself, you know that you are going up against so many good pubs and again, all with their own identity and individuality which is brilliant.

“It’s like a ‘fantasmagoric’ selection of pubs they all do things differently.

“So just to be in the running is honour enough for me but to get up there would be nuts.”

Reaction from the regulars

The Cockpit’s regular customers are bursting with nothing but praise and pride for their local pub.

While they are all friends now who will sit together with their pints and catch up, they were all strangers before setting foot inside of The Cockpit.

Alan Horton said: “I love the place.

“What’s nice in here is that people talk.

Pictured: Alan Horton (left) and Russ Palumbo (right) before and after enjoying a pint at The Cockpit

“Other pubs, you could go in on your own and no one will look at you, no one will talk to you, no one will engage.

“But in here, it feels homely.

“You can come in here on your own and have a good time, with friends and have a good time.

“The staff get to know your drink, they show an interest in you as a customer.

“There’s no lager drinkers so it never gets rowdy, it’s a nice safe place to come to.”

@newsshopper We visited the pub named best in Bromley by Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and here’s how it went💐🍻 #bromley #londonpubs #bestpubinbromley #southlondon #southeastlondon ♬ original sound – News Shopper 🤩

Dave Burnett added: “This micropub is just the closest we’re ever going to get to finding our way back to the Garden of Eden.

This Is Local London: The Cockpit, a pub based inside of a florist, named the best pub in BromleyThe Cockpit, a pub based inside of a florist, named the best pub in Bromley (Image: Emma Fradgley)

“This is the power of glitch there is nothing.

“There’s no good adjective.

“It doesn’t describe this place is absolutely a delicate love and sensitivity concern and integrity that goes into a place like this is just extraordinary.”


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