Protecting our pubs – The Tipperary

I’m sure that many readers will know the Tipperary, 66 Fleet Street (EC4Y 1HT). Previously called the Boars Head and the Irish House, it was owned by Greene King until a few years ago but is now in private hands. Although the front of the pub is early 20th century, the main building dates from 1667 and is Grade II-listed. Its most famous interior feature is a pair of large advertising mirrors, one for stout and the other for whisky. These are believed to date from around 1895 to 1900. When the pub was refurbished in the late 1980s, the original mirrors were retained and they form an important part of the pub’s listed heritage assets.

On 1 March, a passer-by noticed one of the mirrors being removed. Fortunately, this particular passer-by had some knowledge of the trade and, having found out from the removal men that the mirrors had been sold, apparently to ‘a museum in Ireland’, he alerted Jane Jephcote, the chair of CAMRA’s London Pubs Group. Through CAMRA’s network of contacts, the information was quickly passed to the City of London’s planning enforcement team who acted commendably swiftly. Only one mirror had actually been removed and, as at 9 March, both mirrors were confirmed to be hanging in the pub again.

It is understood that the pub has recently been sold and the most recent tenants have departed. One report was that it was to be used as the site office for a nearby development. The Enforcement Team are now tracing the new owners, although, unfortunately, this may be a slow process because there are currently delays to updating records at the Land Registry. Once they have identified them, they will make sure that they understand that listed building consent needs to be obtained before they make any changes to the building and that this should not be taken for granted.

Furthermore, to carry out works to a listed building without such permission is a criminal offence for which the maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Ignorance of the fact that the building is listed is no defence. Both those who instigate the damage and carry it out (for example, where an owner employs a builder) are liable.

This episode shows the benefit of being aware and acting promptly, especially given that there may well be an increased number of pubs changing hands over the coming months. If you are suspicious about work being carried out on a pub that you think might be listed, let CAMRA know by using the report form on the WhatPub system (see page 21). This also applies to cases where pubs are being stripped of their interior. Together we can protect our pubs. It also shows how effective the planning laws can be when, as in this case, they are applied speedily and positively. Many thanks to City of London Planning Enforcement accordingly.

Given the circumstances, there must be some concern over the Tipperary’s continued existence as a pub. We will keep you informed.

With thanks to Michael Slaughter LRPS for the photographs.