Legendary Arthur’s Cafe owner Arthur Woodham dies aged 91 – after 70 years running his Dalston business

Arthur. Photo Emma Bartholomew

Arthur. Photo Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Archant

Arthur Woodham, the legendary proprietor of Arthur’s Café in Dalston, has died aged 91.

Arthur, who turned 91 on Christmas Day, died at Homerton Hospital on Sunday morning following an operation two days before.

He had been serving customers in the café up until the day he went into hospital last week. Arthur, the son of a cafe owner also called Arthur, set up shop in 1948 as a branch of the family business.

Arthur’s wife Eileen, 88, who still cooks up meals at the café in Kingsland Road, told the Gazette he hadn’t been ill for very long and hadn’t been in any pain.

“He went in and then he never came out,” she said.

“It’s still a shock because one week you are here, and the next week you are not.”

When the Gazette caught up with Arthur at the café in mid-2016, he was adamant it had barely changed since 1948 – even though four generations of some East End families have been through its doors in that time. “He never complained about anything,” Eileen told the Gazette. “I am the same.

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“People are really shocked. He’s been in the vicinity for so long. He was a well known character. We have been here all these years.

“He was always the same. The years I’ve known him he was as he was. He just liked to go out, and he liked to drink. He was a bit like that.”

His daughter Elaine said her parents are a “phenomenon”.

“They don’t make them like that any more,” she said.

The good wishes they have received following Arthur’s death have been “unbelievable”.

“We have four generations here, and there are people in their 80s whose great-grandchildren come in now. Everywhere I go people are ringing up to express condolences.

“Sometimes it’s a comfort to hear that, but sometimes it’s not, We have just got to take it day by day.”

As well as Eileen, Arthur leaves behind his two children Elaine and Arthur, grandchildren James and Katie and great-grandchildren Olivia, Freddie, and Ted.