Old view from the river
A view of the pub from Black Buoy Hill in the 1950s

Sea Captains

Originally named the Black Boy (after the 17th century king, Charles II, because of his black hair and dark complexion), the pub dates from at least 1712 when it was one of fifteen public houses in Wivenhoe.

Past landlords, such as the 19th century owner and boat-builder Thomas Harvey, mark out its nautical history. In 1912, the pub was re-named the Black Buoy by landlord Captain William Ennew, reflecting his career and the interests of his maritime clientele.

Old view whilst Daniells
The pub when part of the Daniell and Sons estate


A smuggler’s tunnel in the cellar, which probably led to the quay or the church, is one of several in Wivenhoe. Smuggling was big business in the area and numerous Wivenhoe vessels were seized for smuggling in the late 1700s and on into the 1800s.

The Black Buoy must certainly have been the meeting place for a range of maritime folk, from sea captains and shipbuilders to smugglers and customs men – perhaps even pirates. As recently as the 1970s, sea captains met here every 21st October for a Trafalgar Dinner commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

For decades, the Black Buoy was a thriving pub, well-known for its friendly atmosphere, good beer and popular restaurant. But sadly, the pub slowly lost its shine, became run-down and then closed.

The re-opened pub
The re-opendd pub in November 2013

A new beginning

In September 2012, twenty Wivenhoe residents decided to turn the tide, and attempt to purchase the Black Buoy. By January 2013, the number of shareholders had increased to forty. The keys were handed over in July and renovation work began in earnest: a new kitchen and beer cellar, bar redesign and refurbishment, new toilets and the creation of a private meeting/dining room and terrace garden.

The opening date was set and the doors re-opened on 8th November 2013. An historic, traditional pub and free house had been revived.