The Jolly Drayman is a country pub in the heart of the historic riverside town of Gravesend. It is a comfortable, friendly and cosy pub steeped in history.
Known to the locals as the “Coke Oven” it was formerly the Druid’s Head from 1843-1879. In 1888 it was known as the Brewery Tap.
At some point in the late 19th Century a Mr J. Keddell Junior ran a brewery on the site. In 1854 Mr Alexander Walker took over the brewery and then in 1893 it was the turn of Walker and Sons who brewed under the name of Wellington Brewery.
After Walker and Sons brewed there the site was acquired by Charringtons in 1905 and brewing took place on the site until 1928 when a fire at a nearby timber yard damaged the premises and turned the beer sour. The beer had to be pumped out by fire hoses and subsequently the buildings were demolished in 1936.
The Wellington Brewery Offices survive opposite the pub and rumours of tunnels under the pub persist to this day,
It is thought that after the buildings were demolished is when the name was changed to The Jolly Drayman.
The entrance to the pub was, until relatively recently, along Love Lane which is to the rear of the pub as it is now.
There is evidence that the cellars of the pub were used during World War 2 to offer shelter to the local residents from the German bombing which targeted nearby industry,
The original walls of the brewery bound the beer garden and the pub is a wonderful, low beamed traditional building with walls which, if they could talk, would tell a few tales of Gravesend’s days gone by and yet to come.
Many of the bar staff and customers have, over the years, seen the pub ghost. It seems that the spectral figure of an old lady can sometimes be seen sitting in the corner of the old public bar. Perhaps she is the one who has been known to stack lumps of coal from the fireplace overnight when the pub is empty…
The Jolly Drayman are proud sponsors of the Old Gravesendians RFC who the landlord Rob McMillan played for for a number of years. The name of the pub can be seen emblazoned on the 1st XV’s match day shirts. Details of the Old Gravesendians can be found here...