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The Rockingham Arms

This building was originally destroyed in the Blitz.

Metro Central Heights, 119 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, London, SE1 6BN

Metro Central Heights is the former headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Security. Purpose built in the early 1960s, it covers the site of the long-standing Rockingham Arms. From towards the end of the 19th century, this site was occupied by the Tarns Department Store and the Isaac Waltons Store after that. The emporium was destroyed during the 40s’ Blitz, like the long-standing Rockingham Arms pub, on the corner of what is now Metro Central Heights.

Framed drawings, print and text about Lord Rockingham.

The text reads: A 1799 map of this area shows this site as two terraces of Georgian houses, with a passage between them called Rockingham Court. Also, the main road from the east, that intersected with Newington Causeway, was called Rockingham Row. Both were named after the Prime Minister Charles Wentworth, Marquis of Rockingham, who held the office in 1765, and again in 1782, the year he died. Rockingham has no particular connection with the area, no more than Prime Minister Pitt, who also had a local road named after him.

By the later 19th century this site had become a fashionable shopping area. The site was largely taken up with Tarns Department Store. This was later bought by Isaac Walton’s Store, which stood here until it was bombed in the second World War.

On the corner of the site was the Rockingham Arms. It became the Elephant and Castle when the roundabout and shopping centre were built, but for more than a century the Rockingham Arms had been a local landmark, and the name is now revived by J D Wetherspoon.

Framed drawings, print and text about Elephant and Castle.

The text reads: The Elephant and Castle area is named after a pub of the same name, which started as a blacksmith’s forge set up by John Flaxman in 1614.

Known originally as the White House, and later the Elephant and Castle, the forge-turned-pub stood on the site of the roundabout in front of the building you are now in.

The name Elephant and Castle has many suggested derivations: it is the crest of the Cutlers Company, who used ivory; the Castle in ancient chess sets is often set on the back of an elephant; the name is a corruption of the Infanta of Castille, who was Eleanor, wife of King Edward 1st; Hannibals elephants, which had a kind of Howdah on their back, were a familiar symbol.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk