Home » Human Life » Hat Shows, Princess Margaret and Parrots : The Prospect of Whitby in the 1950s

Hat Shows, Princess Margaret and Parrots : The Prospect of Whitby in the 1950s


Whilst going through some Pathe News Reels, one of the more amusing stories was a feature about a Hat Show at the Prospect of Whitby pub.  In the 1950s, the Prospect was a popular watering hole for ‘society’ people who made the trip from the fashionable parts of London. Even royalty made an appearance with Princess Margaret often visiting with  her escorts. Another attraction of the pub was the mix of people which included  dock workers, medical students and tourists.


The Pathe News Reel is really entertaining with bemused dockers outside watching the arrival of the models to the pub.


There is also scenes of the interior which featured all manner of strange memorabilia including what looks like a crocodile holding the lights in place.


The crocodile was deceased but there were live animals present, the landlord often had parrots and occasionally a monkey to give the pub ‘atmosphere.’


One of the parrots was particularly interested in the hat with a bird on top with the model looking increasingly uneasy.


A  newspaper report of the time gave more details of the event showing the hats of  English milliner Hugh Beresford .

The Prospect of Whitby, England’s oldest Thames-side inn-built in 1520 at Wapping was chosen by English milliner Hugh Beresford for the showing of his autumn collection.

In the “Pepys” room three mannequins showed hats In the shades which their creator thinks will be the “big hit” of the autumn season.  These colours are peppermint white, tangier crimson, dahlia mauve, and silver sand.

All the hats are “snug-fitting” and made of rich materials such as plush, velour, panne velvet,and trimmed lavishly with silk bobbies and fringes.

Sometimes fur is used, or glycerined goose or pheasant feathers, many of these from Denmark and brought over by Danish students who from their sale, pay for their holiday.


Robert Newton with the famous and talented ‘Captain Flint’

The ‘Prospect’ many have had its fair share of human celebrities but also was home to a celebrity of the feathered variety, a newspaper from 1951 gives the details.

‘Captain Flint, the talented parrot which rides the shoulder of Robert Newton during his portrayal of Long John Silver in ‘Treasure Island,’ has not been relegated to oblivion. When the picture was finished, Captain Flint was retired to a life of luxury in the famous ‘Prospect of Whitby.’

Attracting wealthy visitors did have its downside, in 1953 the pub was the scene of a notorious armed robbery in which customers cash and jewellery was stolen with a number of customers receiving injuries from a cosh used by the robbers.

If you would like to see the News Reel, it is available on You Tube here




  1. Diane says:

    We visited the Prospect on a recent visit to London – we loved all the pubs along Wapping Wall – they were like fabulous little museums

    • Hi Diane,

      The Wapping pub crawl which takes in the Grapes, the Prospect, Captain Kidd and the Town of Ramsgate is one of the best in London. I agree with you they are like small museums.

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