Pub News – November 2019

You will find most of our regular pub news in the WhatPub Update column but here are some items that merit further comment, some positive, others alas not…

Many moons ago the customers of the Acorn in Haggerston included workers from the nearby gas works. The works were bombed out of existence during the war and the pub, dating from 1839 with its Truman’s livery intact, is the only building from those times left standing in the area. Alas, not for much longer. Having acknowledged its significance by listing it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) (although subsequently overturned on a technicality), Hackney Council refused planning permission for its demolition and replacement by a block of flats with a bar on the ground floor. Predictably it went to appeal and the planning inspector overturned the decision. When the Council’s planning committee recently considered a request to vary the original planning permission, all they could do was discuss bike sheds and redesigned windows for the new building. As reported in the Hackney Gazette, planning officers told the committee, “We resisted the demolition and felt the building should be retained but the Planning Inspector took a very different view. Their assessment was that the building was of very limited heritage value. We identified the building as a non-designated heritage asset and the inspector disagreed. We don’t have any leverage now in terms of the loss of the building.” The inspector also considered that the addition of modern windows and extensions had ‘diluted the integrity’ of the building, although the Hackney Society pointed out that these changes could easily be reversed. It did not help however that, despite the ACV, the council had not placed the building on their local list of buildings of special or architectural and historic interest. Planning inspectors have often been the heroes in campaigns to save pubs but I think that it is questionable that, given that they have no local knowledge, they are able to disregard a local council’s assessment of the value of one of their local buildings.

There has been an unexpected development in the case of the Angel at Hayes End. Two editions ago I reported that a local religious foundation had purchased this Grade II-listed pub with the intention of turning it into a community centre with multiple occupation accommodation on the upper floors. The planning application was duly submitted but was then withdrawn. We do not know why. There is therefore a glimmer of hope. If the owners are dropping the project then they might be interested in selling and this gem could yet reopen as a pub. The current owners reportedly paid £1.6 million for the freehold.

Around in a circle for the Builders Arms in Britten Street, Chelsea, which has reopened after refurbishment. The pub was originally owned by Geronimo Inns and passed to Young’s upon their takeover. Hippo Inns, run by Rupert Clevely who founded Geronimo, have now acquired the pub and Mr Clevely commented, “It is great to have the Builders Arms back; it’s a pub close to my heart from my previous life. Hippo Inns is a group of community pubs with quality food and drink at its heart and the Builders Arms fits perfectly within our portfolio.” Hippo Inns, part of the Ei Group, now have 13 pubs in London.

Good news about the Eastbrook in Dagenham, courtesy of CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Bulletin. This Grade II*-listed pub, dating from 1937, is now in the hands of a private owner with good intentions. The pub has two bars: the Walnut Bar (left hand side) and the Oak Bar (right) and the panelling and fittings in both make this one of CAMRA’s Historic Pub Interiors of National Importance. The Walnut Bar has been restored and the Oak bar, currently used for storage, will follow and be returned to use. The pub is a favourite of supporters of Dagenham & Redbridge football club. The full address is Dagenham Road/Rainham Road South, RM10 7UP.

Permission to redevelop the Hero of Switzerland at Loughborough Junction has been granted by Lambeth Council. As previously mentioned, it will be replaced by a fully sustainable 13 storey tower containing 35 apartments but a pub will be retained, including the original sign and mural.

Good news from Le Gothique, the home of the Wandsworth Common beer festivals. The pub is part of the magnificent Royal Victoria Patriotic Building and for his most recent festival, proprietor Mark Justin obtained permission to open up the Great Hall on the Saturday night. The occasion was to commemorate the opening of the building by Queen Victoria in 1859. The Great Hall is truly a ‘hidden gem’ featuring a barrel vaulted ceiling adorned with the coats of arms of the shires of England and the Commonwealth countries plus a Shakespearian mural. Congratulations to Mark for achieving something that I know he has wanted to do for some time.

CAMRA’s monthly newspaper, What’s Brewing, mentioned the Leslie Arms in Croydon in its October edition. I thought that it was worth repeating here that this magnificent Grade II-listed pub, built around 1900 for local brewers Nalder & Colyer, has stood empty for some twenty years now and is high on the Victorian Society’s list of valuable buildings at risk of being lost forever. According to Croydon Council’s planning website, there are two planning applications submitted in June this year which are ‘awaiting decision’. The director of the Victorian Society, Christopher Costelloe, said, “Victorian pubs are closing all over the country and it is no surprise that this year there is one on our Top Ten Endangered List. A particularly intractable case, this is a building of great quality where continued pub use should be viable. The right owner is needed.” The full address is 62 Lower Addiscombe Road, CR0 6AB.

A recent addition to bus corner in the Little Green Dragon at Winchmore Hill is a Countdown bus indicator. Enterprising owner Richard Reeve has programmed it to show buses on local routes 125 and 329 which pass by. This possibly unique piece of customer service is dedicated to local CAMRA activist, Peter ‘I’ll get the next one’ Graham who had the honour of switching it on. With thanks to Owen Woodliffe for the news.

The message has still not got through. Mitchells & Butlers recently applied to Merton Council for a Certificate of Lawful Development (CLD) to turn the O’Neill’s in Wimbledon SW19 into a shop (A1 retail) using permitted development rights (PDR). Alas, their lawyers appear to be unaware that PDR for pubs were abolished in May 2017. We await the planning application. With thanks to Rex Ward for bringing this to my attention.

There has been an encouraging development regarding the Old Justice on Bermondsey Wall. The Southwark News reports that the developer has withdrawn their appeal against the enforcement notice served on them by Southwark Council following their making unauthorised changes to the interior of this Grade II-listed building, thus avoiding a public

planning hearing. It remains to be seen what happens now. Local campaigners still want to take the pub into community ownership.

Here is something for you cider buffs. The Pilango Craft Cider Company have opened a shop and bar in Fulham. They are advertising the largest selection of cider in London, with over 150 different varieties from 15 different countries. Reports confirm that they have up to four draught ciders served from the box which may be taken away or consumed on the premises by the glass or carafe. Food (cheese, charcuterie and nibbles) is available and they stage various events: see www.pilangocider.com/cider-vault. The opening hours are 5.30 to 10pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 1 to 10pm on Friday, 12 to 10pm on Saturday and 12 to 6pm on Sunday. You will find them in a former taxi garage under the District Line railway arches at Arch 10 Munster Road, Fulham SW6 4RY. Please note that there are various drinks available but no beer. It is however only a short walk to the White Horse. Go under the railway, turn left into St Dionis Road and you will find the Green at the end. As you pass, spare a thought for the Jolly Brewers, a sad loss.

We have been contacted by the secretary of the Ponders End Working Men’s Club who has asked us to clarify that it is the Enfield Highway Working Men’s Club (97 Ordnance Road, Enfield Wash EN3 6AG) which has closed and his club, situated at 46 South Street, EN3 4LB, is still happily in business. He has also let us know that the development on the site of the old Enfield Highway club will not after all include a bar. The Ponders End club serves beer on handpump and CAMRA members are welcome to visit.

As previewed, the Ram Inn in Wandsworth reopened on 10 October, having been shut since the brewery closed in 2006 although it remained in Young’s ownership. It is a Young’s tenancy in the safe hands of renowned local publicans, Lee and Keris DeVilliers, who also operate the nearby Old Sergeant and Pig & Whistle. The pub has two distinct areas. The ground floor is a traditional pub, acknowledging Young’s history, while the bar upstairs is more modern in style, with shuffleboards and a Citron H2 van serving street food to give what Keris described as an ‘outdoor event’ feel. They have decided not to allow in children on either floor. As Lee told the Morning Advertiser, “We wanted to create a grown-up place for people to relax and have a good time. Both our other sites are family-friendly but we wanted this one to be just for the adults.” The pub also houses the six barrel Sly Beast micro-brewery. Their first brew, a keg session IPA (4.2% ABV) called 1533, takes it name from the date when beer was first brewed on the site. Cask ale will follow soon, likely to be a porter.

Some news of the Royal Bell Hotel in Bromley. This Grade II-listed building has been closed and boarded up for more than ten years. It did however briefly open its doors for viewing during the London Open House weekend in September. More than 500 people took this rare opportunity to have a look inside; this included several members of CAMRA’s Bromley branch. The present building dates from 1898 and is in the ‘Arts and Craft’ style while the previous building on the site was mentioned in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Work has now started to restore the building as part of a development which will feature a new hotel on the site to the rear of the existing structure. The first phase will include a new bar, the ‘Royal Bell Tap’, occupying part of the ground floor. This is due to open in early 2020. The developers are also planning to bring the entire building back into use with restaurants or food outlets plus the possible use of the former ballroom (pictured) on the first floor as a music venue.


Bob Keaveney (who also took the photo)

Editor’s note: Bob asked me how often Jane Austen’s name had appeared in LD. Well, she never mentioned LD in any of her books…

The latest pub to be given a replacement CAMRA certificate acknowledging its historic interior is the Spread Eagle in Wandsworth. This Grade II-listed late Victorian inn has extensive etched glass and an unusual external canopy, and retains its two bar layout. The presentation was made by Geoff Brandwood of CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Group, supported by a number of local CAMRA members.

The Spread Eagle Public Bar (Mike Flynn)

As we go to press, bad news about the Squirrel in Maida Vale. An application to list the building has been refused. An Historic England adviser, quoted in the Morning Advertiser, said, “Overall, the Squirrel is a notable building within its ‘streetscape’ with clear local historic interest, but it is not considered to meet the criteria for statutory listing.”

At Twickenham Beer Festival I picked up a flyer for Tubbs Pub. This newly opened micropub, offering up to six cask ales plus other drinks, can be found at 15 Castle Parade, Ewell KT17 2PR (Ewell By-pass, corner of London Road). The nearest station is Ewell West, just inside Zone 6. I have seen a photo of it on Facebook and it looks very smart. It is open 12 to 9pm from Monday to Wednesday, 12 to 11pm Thursday to Saturday and 12 to 5pm on Sundays.

Compiled by Tony Hedger, except where otherwise credited