If you turn off of Cable Street just a short walk from the tourist hoards in Tower Bridge, turn into the little-used Graces Alley and you will find a small row of four terrace houses that is Wilton’s Music Hall.
One of the earliest exponents of musical theatre, it claims to be the first pub to install a Mahogany bar named, unimaginatively, the Mahogany Bar, which still exists today.
After running as a musical theatre establishment in the 1800s it eventually fell into the hands of a Methodist mission, who changed it from the ‘debauchery’ of it’s heyday into a place of worship, operating a soup kitchen for the burgeoning urban poor of the East End, and calling it the Mahogany Mission.
Then it fell into disrepair again before being revamped more recently into a unique venue for a variety of shows, as well as being hired out for weddings and other functions.
It also featured in the 1990 biopic of the Krays with the Kemp brothers, where it became their nightclub. My memory of that movie was watching it in the cinema with a suburban audience when it first came out. The audience sat quietly through various scenes of violence until it got to the bit where one of the Kemps (sorry I can never tell them apart) kisses another man on the lips and the whole audience recoiled in horror with audible gasps of ‘urghhhhhh’.
Sums up suburbia I like to think.
Anyway, the Mahogany Bar is a nice place to get a drink, even if you don’t fancy any of the shows. They also do history tours if you’re interested in learning more.