Pub News – Nov 2020

Help us stay up to date: this is a difficult time for assembling news about pubs and so any information that readers can provide will be gratefully received. The best way for you to pass on any information is through CAMRA’s WhatPub system. We would, in particular, appreciate any information about pubs that have been included in the 2021 Good Beer Guide.

Asset of Community Value registrations: CAMRA’s Pub and Clubs Campaigns Committee have suggested an alternative way of securing the above. It will however apply mostly to the outskirts beyond the Greater London boundary, as there is only one parish council inside the boundary, Queen’s Park in the City of Westminster. Parish councils (PC) have an absolute right to nominate properties for ACV listing, and so the arguments that we have often encountered as regards eligibility to nominate will not apply. Most PCs will also be aware of what is involved because they may well have sought registration for their own community and village halls. Given that it is also a volunteer body, the PC might however appreciate a helping hand with the paperwork. Your first contact will be the parish clerk. Although planning law has moved on since ACVs were introduced, they are still a ‘material consideration’ in planning decisions, are sometimes mentioned in local plans and, of course, they enable the ‘community right to bid’, so vital for establishing community ownership.

Albert, Primrose Hill: just to confirm that the pub did reopen on 30 October. The honours were performed by broadcaster Andrew Marr, who told the local paper, the Ham & High, “The most important thing now is every pub has a unique selling point, and the Albert pub has that. It’s just different. It’s not a big pub, it doesn’t have Sky Sports on the TV all the time, or doesn’t have thumping music. It’s for people who like to go to the pub.” Sadly, it was only open for seven days before lockdown.

Audley, Mayfair: as previously reported, this splendid Grade II-listed late Victorian pub is currently closed for refurbishment. The freehold is owned by the Grosvenor Estate and was leased to Greene King, who had plans to turn it into a hotel. A new lease has however been granted to Artfarm, the hospitality company owned by the prominent Swiss art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth. They already own venues in Somerset and Scotland. The new plans include a restaurant and the reinstatement of features that were lost when the building suffered bomb damage in World War Two. The reopening is scheduled for the autumn of 2022. In case any of you have spotted the similarity, with its red brick and pink terracotta facings, the Audley was the work of Thomas Verity, who also designed the pavilion at Lord’s cricket ground.

Black Friar, Blackfriars: owners Nicholson’s (Mitchell & Butlers) have applied to the City of London for planning permission for ‘repairs to the structure, interior and external facades and roof’. It is good to see that, in these difficult times, this historic pub is being looked after. One curious point was that the planning notice called it the Blackfriars Tavern.

Bull & Gate, Kentish Town: this is one of those pubs which have a flat roofed area at the front at first floor level. Owners Young’s want to turn the roof area into a dining terrace but, according to a report in the Camden New Journal, Camden Council have refused permission. They say that it would affect the appearance of the Grade II-listed building, built in the ‘gin palace’ style and once famous as a music venue. Local opinion is mixed, with CAMRA’s North London branch being in favour. Young’s have indicated that they will appeal. Even though the terrace is unlikely to have been operational in time to help in the immediate situation, approval would have been encouraging in these difficult times for the pub trade.

Cock & Bull, Sutton: this pub closed on 4 November and it is understood that the owners, Fullers, were not intending to reopen it once the second lockdown ends. The premises are an impressive conversion from a bank and were refurbished as recently as 2017. It is expected that the premises will be sold but it is not known if this will be as a going concern as a pub. The pub is in the Good Beer Guide 2021 (page 277).

Corner Pin, Tottenham: this pub, on the High Road, was closed ten years ago to enable it to be used as Tottenham Hotspur’s ticket office while their new stadium was being built. It was built as a public house in 1871 and was originally called the Park Tavern. The club have now applied for planning permission to return it to its original use. They are doing this in conjunction with Beavertown Brewery who have the concession to supply beer at the stadium. The plans propose ‘minimal external alteration’ and the reinstatement of the beer garden. The upper two floors were previously in residential use but, under the new plans, they will be available for entertainment, private hire and, very topically, a daytime ‘place to work’. I wonder if it will revert to its original name or will be named in honour of one of the club’s heroes.

Craft Beer Co, Islington: it has emerged that CBC have given up this outlet, which is a shame because it was one of North London Branch’s Good Beer Guide entries. It is understood that the freehold owner has refused to grant the company a lease that was long enough to justify the cost of the works to the site which CBC believe are required. The future of the pub is now uncertain but North London Branch will be keeping an eye on it.

Porcupine, Mottingham: I suppose that, in other circumstances, their tenacity would be admirable. The supermarket chain, Lidl, having been rebuffed last year, have had another application to replace the pub with a supermarket refused by Bromley Council. It is assumed that Lidl will appeal. The saga is now in its seventh year and, although it is an Asset of Community Value, the building is thought to be in a poor state. It is possible that an alternative scheme involving housing and a smaller pub will be the outcome. With thanks to Norman Warner of CAMRA’s Bromley Branch for the information. Norman also suggests that any replacement pub could be called the Porcupette.

Spoons under the Water, Whitehall: as previously mentioned, McMullen’s have now taken over what was formerly Wetherspoon’s Lord Moon of the Mall. They are carrying out an extensive refurbishment, with a view to the pub reopening in April 2021. In the meantime, McMullen’s have set up a ‘pop up’ bar just selling keg beer, including some from their Rivertown range. The temporary name is a bit cheeky…

Station House, Grove Park: the local news website reports that an application has been made to Hounslow Council to reduce the size of the pub in order to build five flats. The proposal is to use part of the ground floor, add a new extension on one side and create a basement. The pub’s floor space will be almost halved and there would be no accommodation for staff on the premises. It is understood that the pub’s manager and family currently live on site. It would also put an end to live music at the pub. It is understood that the Council are unhappy at the potential loss of a community asset given that the area is being improved. Negotiations are taking place.

Anchor Inn, High Offley: not a London pub but I know that many readers are narrow boat enthusiasts and will know this unspoilt gem by bridge 42 of the Shropshire Union canal. At the end of September, CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Bulletin reported that the Anchor had closed for the foreseeable future. It was due to re-open in August but, following long time landlady Olive Carr suffering a back injury, the pub remains closed. There were also concerns about social distancing. We join the Pub Heritage Group in wishing Olive a full and speedy recovery.

TV favourite: a games company, Liberty Games, recently conducted a survey to find the nation’s favourite on-screen pub. The winner, with 17.25% of the vote, was the Nag’s Head in Peckham from Only Fools and Horses. As it happens, there is a pub called the Nags Head in Peckham Rye (231 Rye Lane SE15 4TP). The only other London pub mentioned was the Slaughtered Lamb from the film An American Werewolf in London. There is a pub in London of that name in Clerkenwell (34-35 Great Sutton Street EC1V 0DX). The pub opened in 2004 while the film dates from 1981. Strangely, the ‘London’ pub that probably most people know, the Queen Victoria in Albert Square, didn’t get a mention.

Compiled by Tony Hedger (photos from WhatPub)