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22 February 2010

Drink in the pub where Lenin and Stalin 'first met'

Whilst recorded history has it that that a young Joseph Stalin first met Vladimir Ilyich Lenin at the Bolshevik Congress in Tsarist Finland in 1905, London legend has it that they actually met a couple of years earlier in the pub which is now the Crown Tavern, on Clerkenwell Green.

Lenin had recently moved the publication of the Russian socialist newspaper Iskra to Clerkenwell Green, and was living on nearby Percy Circus, a short walk away. The legend goes that the two met in the Crown and Anchor pub, which has since been renamed the Crown Tavern, when the Stalin came to London to train as a Bolshevik. At the time, Clerkenwell was a hotbed of leftism.

Whether or not it is true we will never know. Probably not, but it's a nice pub with an interesting history anyway. In Victorian times the upstairs Apollo Lounge was the ‘Apollo Concert Hall’, with nightly music hall entertainment. More recently, and with less impact on world history, Dame Judi Dench is seen in Crown in the film ‘Notes On A Scandal’.

For more information, see the pub's website at http://thecrowntavernec1.co.uk/.

^Picture by the fantastic Ewan-M^


  1. Trotsky and Lenin were brilliant thinkers and probably brilliant drinkers as well. So I would have loved the idea of the two of them meeting up in some gorgeous London pub to debate theory and practice issues.

    But Stalin later turned into a real pig of a human being :( I know he wanted to be in London as well, but in my heart of hearts, I wish they had gaoled him for life in Siberia.

    1. He was in London having escaped from Siberia. He was in Siberia because he (cough) 'raised funds' for the Bolsheviks. Specifically for its 'insurance scheme' - what Irish Republicans called a Cabhair Camhar / Prisoners' Dependants Fund.
      That was the finding of a woman member of IS (International Socialists / SWP) in Lancaster in the early / mid 1970s.
      She'd been doing a PhD on women Bolsheviks. Not being imprisoned as often as the men, they managed the scheme - same for the Irish Republicans.
      Stalin, in 1917, thought the Bolsheviks would take their place in a bourgeois parliament in the manner of the British ILP.
      It was Lenin who decided the Russian Republic was going to be a one-party state - and the opposition were going to be in prison. Trotsky kept discipline in his armies by was of decimation. Stalin in his by way of keeping his soldiers fed and clothed.
      IS made the PhD candidate repudiate her findings and not go for a PhD, amazingly for a genuine feminist, she obeyed orders.

  2. Hi Hels,

    Funny that you say that as I had trouble working out how Stalin could've been in London, joined the Bolsheviks and been in the Gulag all in 1903, but he seems to have been if you believe all that is written about him.

    Just maybe it was possible though...


  3. Must pop in next time I pass

  4. The world would be a much, much better place had someone put a bullet into Lenin and Stalin's while they sharing that drink in 1903.

  5. It may be true to say that if Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky had all been bumped off prior to 1914 the "world would be a much, much better place". None of the Unholy Trinity had any part in setting off the Great War. That privilege goes to Ireland's Redmondite 'moderate Nationalist' Irish Parliamentary Party. (United Irish League on the ground). Redmond backed the Liberal Imperialist clique (which had been 'studying war' - with Germany - since at least 1907). Redmond supported the war in the vote in Westminster. The Liberal backbenchers were entirely opposed to foreign adventures - but they could hardly be less loyal (to their party if nothing else) than Irish Nationalists! The War in Europe might have been quite short - the previous ones in the Balkans had lasted days rather than weeks. The wars to unite Germany weren't much longer. Six Weeks with Austria, a matter of hours with Denmark, and the war in France only persisted because the Paris Government demanded the people rise up when the armies had been beaten fair and square. (Then, of course, it busied itself massacring its own citizens in the Commune de Paris...). The Great War dragged on for four long years mainly because Britannia ruled the waves (the twaddle churned out about Germany's naval strength was objectively ludicrous the RN was - by design - as big as the next two largest navies. And, of course, Canada, Oz, NZ, South Africa - and India all had their 'own' navies). And Germany proved unexpectedly resilient and capable... Then when it did eventually ask for terms (an armistice - a ceasefire) the place was held under a naval blockade for a full year, and the terms dictated to a traumatised country were vindictive... The rest is 'history'...

  6. Lenin may have drunk there, but sadly it's become a terrible pub with the worst bar staff ever. Never go there.

  7. Would ye call the bar-staff "Bolshie"? (I know I ought to have resisted that...)

  8. Incidentally, Clerkenwell Green is where London'd May Dat demonstration sets out from...

  9. When Stalin was in London in 1907, he and Litvinov apparently went to a pub in the east end, where Stalin got into an altercation and was badly beaten up. He was rescued by Litvinov...anyone know which pub it was?(it's thought that this is the reason why Litvinov escaped all the purges later on)