'Larger-than-life' Long Melford man who ran notorious London pub dies
A larger-than-life man, who ran one of the most notorious pubs in the East End of London for more than 40 years, died at his home in Long Melford last weekend.
Edward Charles Johnson, known by his family and friends as Eddie, died on Saturday at the age of 86.
Matt, one of his sons, who is the founder and frontman of the band ‘The The’, paid an emotional tribute to his father, who lived in Long Melford for many years.
He posted to his fans online: “It is with very deep sadness, and a very heavy heart, I have to say that my beloved father passed away while I was on my way to Stockholm for a concert.
“I was unable to cancel the concerts over the coming week, but in recent weeks, as his health started to fail, my Dad made my brother Gerard and I promise that if anything happened, we would both carry on with our careers and make him proud.
“Anyone who knew our dad will know what a wonderful man he was.
“A big man in more ways than one, he was well-read, funny, charming, loyal, brave, a brilliant story-teller and a man with a deep sense of social justice.
“Above all, he was a family man who loved his large family and it has been a privilege to be his son.
“We spoke every day and I loved him very, very much and his loss to our family is incalculable.
“Lesser people than him might have experienced some of the heavy blows he suffered in life may have become embittered, yet it had the reverse effect on him.
“Despite losing two sons, a wife and suffering numerous other hardships that life threw at him he just grew and grew as a human being and in the intensity of his warmth and kindness and empathy.
“While this would normally be a private family matter, I am making it public, because I find myself trapped in the public during the coming weeks.
“I ask for your understanding and bearing with me during this difficult time.”
In 1962, Eddie and his family took over the management of the Two Puddings pub in Stratford, which had previously developed a fearsome reputation.
Due to its cream tiled walls and the volume of blood spilt because of violence within the premises, it had gained the nickname locally of ‘The Butcher’s Shop’.
The pub has also known to be a regular meeting place for local gangsters, including the notorious Kray brothers.
But within a few years, it had been transformed into one of London’s busiest and most fashionable pubs, and its music night is said to have attracted a colourful clientele, including renowned actors, writers, singers, champion boxers, TV personalities and top footballers.
By the time the pub called last orders for the last time nearly four decades later, Eddie had become the longest-serving licensee in the country, which has been attributed to his personality, his business skills and his toughness.
Six years ago, he published an autobiography based on his colourful life in London and his experiences running the pub, which is titled ‘Tales from the Two Puddings’.