This is another Shepherd’s Bush article by Peter Trott – the pub theme is getting quite strong – enjoy, there are more.
Charles Coningham Tubbs was born in Sussex in 1838, to wealthy parents Charles Tubbs Esquire and Lucy Coningham, the daughter of Daniel Coningham, Major General of the Bengal Army. Charles was only eight when his mother Lucy died in 1846 and twenty three when his father Charles died in 1861.
Between 1856 and 1860 Charles Coningham Tubbs was listed as living in Worthing but was shown as the owner of land occupied by a tenant named John Gorton on the Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The 1861 census lists John as a ‘cow keeper’ living at Oaklands Dairy. After his father died Charles was listed as living in the family home at 16 Pall Mall London and still shown as owning freehold land on the Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush.
Sometime between 1865 and 1870 Charles changed his surname to Coningham and was recorded on a polling list as Charles Coningham Coningham of Pall Mall. He was shown as the owner of freehold land and houses listed as 1 to 16 Coningham Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The road was officially named in 1865. In 1871 his tenant John Gorton was living on the Uxbridge Road at 1 Coningham Villa. The Coningham Arms was also listed on the 1871 census indicating it was probably built sometime between the 1861 and 1871 censuses, on land owned by Charles.
His mother’s Coningham ancestors can be traced back to 1750 when earlier records become less clear. However, the name Coningham dates back to at least the twelfth century and is derived from the Scottish Clan Cunningham.
The pub has been called The Coningham Arms since it was built but confusingly mid twentieth century photos of the pub show a hanging sign with three crouching rabbits. That was in fact the Coat of Arms of the Coningsby family which had no connection to the Coningham family. I can only assume that someone made a schoolboy error and used the wrong Coat of Arms.
The sign was later replaced with the Coningham Coat of Arms which pictured a shakefork in the shape of a stylised ‘Y’. The accompanying motto ‘over fork over’ refers to the time when Macbeth killed Duncan and sent his men to kill Duncan’s son Malcolm Canmore. Malcolm took refuge in the barn of farmer Malcolm the son of Friskin. The farmer called out to his companion “over, fork over,” as they used shakeforks to cover the Prince with hay. By doing so the farmer saved the Prince’s life and he was later rewarded with the Thanedom of Cunninghame.
On 1 June 1871 Charles married Margaret Tremenheere, the daughter of Major General George Borlase Tremenheere of the Bengal Engineers. The marriage certificate showed his name as Charles Coningham Coningham a Gentleman living in Isleworth. In the autumn of 1873 they had a son named Charles Stuart Coningham. Tragically on 19 April 1874, within three years of his marriage, Charles Coningham Coningham died whilst staying at the Belle Vue Hotel in San Remo Italy. His body was brought home for burial at Heston. His Will gave his address as Ellingham Hall, Norfolk. By a cruel twist of fate their son Charles Stuart also died in Italy in March 1896 aged only 22.
In the same year that Charles married, the census listed Alfred Palmer as the Licensed Victualler of The Coningham Arms. James Watt was listed in 1874 followed by Samuel Riches the same year. Samuel actually died on the premises in 1881 and his widow Charlotte became the Publican. In 1891 George Towerzey and his wife Clara were in charge and by the end of WW2 the pub had changed hands at least another five times.
Originally the pub had one entrance door facing the Uxbridge Road, adjacent to an existing door that leads to the premises above. There was another entrance door facing Percy Road. These doors may have once been entrances to a Public Bar and a Saloon Bar. A smaller door further along Percy Road may have been an Off Licence. The current entrance on the corner of Uxbridge Road and Percy Road was once a display window.
The red brick extension on Percy Road appears to have been built sometime between 1896 and 1915. It was probably then that the outside men’s toilet in Coningham Mews was added. Post war there was also a wooden stall on the corner of the Mews that served hot meat pies and mugs of tea.
For many decades it has been known locally as an Irish pub and the pub is still a firm favourite with supporters of Celtic FC. The pub also has a strong following of Queen’s Park Ranger supporters. Occasionally Celtic travel to Shepherd’s Bush to play friendlies with Rangers and all the fans happily mingled together at the pub.
The pub survived the war unscathed and over the years the interior has changed very little. However, the exterior colour scheme has changed from brown and cream, to light green and cream and then dark green and cream. During the first lockdown in 2020, it was repainted ‘Rangers’ blue.
As with several of the local pubs the management has changed many times in recent years. The lease was put up for sale in 2008 and again in 2011 when Enterprise Inns put it up for auction with a rent of £85,000. Around 5 years ago a more generic Coat of Arms appeared and the ‘shakefork’ link to the Coningham family disappeared. In spite of all the changes The Coningham Arms has avoided gentrification and that is borne out by on line reviews such as ‘a proper pub’ and ‘this is one of the last old pubs in the area’.
There’s an interesting postscript to this story which relates to the naming of two further roads in Shepherd’s Bush. Ellingham Road joins Findon Road which in turn joins Coningham Road. Coningham Road was named in 1865 but Ellingham Road and Findon Road were both named in 1879 which was five years after Charles Coningham Coningham died. Records show that Charles was born and baptised in Findon, Sussex. And when he died his home address was Ellingham Hall, Norfolk. So very probably the two roads were named to commemorate Charles.