Pub news – January 2022

In the last edition, I reported that the Bell of Hampstead (NW3 2QX) had reopened. Alas, I misread my source and, in fact, the pub remained closed and boarded up. I offer my apologies accordingly and my thanks to those who pointed it out.

The By The Horns Brewery has closed its taproom on Summerstown (SW17 0BQ). It has instead taken over the operation of a purpose built pub inside the new AFC Wimbledon ground, properly called the Cherry Red Records stadium. The new venue has been named the Phoenix in honour of the return to Plough Lane. Access is via Copper Mill Lane, off of Plough Lane. Initially it will be open seven days a week from 4pm to 11pm on weekdays, 12pm to 11.30pm on Saturday and 2pm to 10pm on Sunday. However, on match days it will only be open to match ticket holders before and during the game. This also applies to evening games. On Saturdays the intention is to open to the public after the game, around 6pm, but this will be subject to numbers etc.

In December, following a surrender of tenancy, the Punch Pub Co advertised the freehold of the Crane in Wandsworth (SW18 1EZ) for sale. The pub’s last day of trading was 12 December. The Crane was one of the Ram Pub Company tenanted pubs which Young’s sold to Punch last year and, so far, is believed to be the first of them to be disposed of. The guide price was £900,000. Although said to be the oldest pub in Wandsworth (built in 1738), the Crane is not listed in any way but is in the Wandsworth Town Conservation Area. It was offered as a going concern and the new owners are unlikely to be given permission for any development given Wandsworth Council’s commendably stringent pub protection policy. That said, there is always the risk of intervention by the Planning Inspectorate.

Given its history, I thought that this was worth a mention. The Farriers Arms in St Albans (AL3 4PT) played an important part in CAMRA’s history. It was not, as has been reported elsewhere, where the first CAMRA meeting took place but it was where, in November 1972, the first meeting of a CAMRA branch was held, the branch in question being Hertfordshire, as it was then. Formerly a McMullen’s pub, the Farriers Arms has been a free house since 2013 and is the only pub in St Albans that has continuously sold real ale. The current owners plan to retire and have put the pub on the market. Local residents, including what is now CAMRA’s South Herts branch, are campaigning to make sure that it remains a pub, including seeking an Asset of Community Value listing. Iain Loe, chair of the South Herts branch, said, “It’s a true national treasure and the epitome of a British pub and it must continue to serve as a pub.”

The historic Fellowship in Bellingham (SE6 3BT) has not reopened following the last lockdown. The pub is Grade II listed and is a rare surviving example of the ‘improved’ public house’. It was built for Barclay, Perkins & Co in 1923/24 as part of the London County Council’s Bellingham Estate. It reopened in 2019 following a comprehensive refurbishment funded by a £4 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and, as well as a pub, it housed an entertainment venue, a cinema and cafe. It is understood that the freeholders, Phoenix Community Housing, are currently looking for new operators.

Some promising news. A planning application has been made to the City of Westminster to expand the George IV Inn in Holborn (WC2A 2HF) into the ground floor of an adjoining property, 2 Portsmouth Street. It requests consent for internal alterations to create a new opening between the two buildings.

The battle to save the Glamorgan in East Croydon (CR0 6BE) continues. The current owners gave notice to sell last year and, as reported previously, the Save the Glamorgan Campaign created a community interest company called Glamorgan Phoenix with the aim of buying it under the Asset of Community Value provisions. The six month option period ended on 11 December but the owners have rejected Glamorgan Phoenix’s offer. The bid, which the campaign considered reasonable, was backed by two local breweries, both of whom continue to express their interest in and support for the bid. The owners claim to have received better bids and the campaign are waiting to see what happens now. If another developer does buy the site, they can be certain that they will encounter stiff local opposition and the campaign will press for the limitations imposed by Croydon’s Local Plan as regards change of use for public houses to be upheld.

There were fears for the future of the Henley Arms in North Woolwich (E16 2JB), as featured on the cover, when it was closed following a fire last year. Happily, it reopened in December after an extensive refurbishment, both inside and out, costing £175,000. This was overseen by a new manager who wants to re-establish the pub as a community hub. It is operated by Star Pubs & Bars. It is also now selling cask beer. The name of the pub commemorates William Thomas Henley who was a pioneer in the manufacture of telegraph cables and who had a factory, Henley Telegraph & Cables, in North Woolwich. With thanks to Colin Price for both the information and the photo.

It has been reported that the Lord Southampton in Kentish Town (NW5 4HX) is boarded up and the freehold is for sale. It had been operated by a firm called No Limits who used the upper floors as a hostel. This very distinctive mid 19th century corner pub, with bright blue detailing on the upper floors, is locally listed by Camden Council and is on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

The Old Kings Head in Hampton Wick (KT1 4AE) has been closed since 2018 and has already been subject to one failed planning application. Now another has been submitted for change of use to convert the upper floors, formerly the staff accommodation, into three flats. The ground floor will become a community cycle hub and café, a function which I would have thought could easily be incorporated into a retained pub.

Planning permission is being sought to convert the Old Suffolk Punch in Hammersmith (W6 9PL), once the famous boxing pub, the Golden Gloves, into a hotel. The proposal is to demolish the building ‘while preserving the existing front and side facades’. A pub will be included in the new building. It was last operated as a pub by the West Berkshire Brewery (see page 24) whose partner company, Maverick Pubs, sold it in April 2021.

The message has still not got through or is being ignored. Just before Christmas, the Olde Clock Tower in Croydon (CR0 2JG) was demolished without planning permission. CAMRA’s Croydon & Sutton branch have asked their membership to lobby their various elected representatives to ensure that Croydon Council takes the appropriate action, especially as it also contravenes the Local Plan. The pub closed in October 2020 and was sold to a property developer in July of last year. Curiously, the previous owners had a planning application approved in 2019 which allowed them to add to and develop the upper floors into flats while retaining the pub on the ground floor. The new owner had recently applied to vary the conditions of this application and it is still showing as ‘awaiting decision’. Planning regulations are now much clearer and more easily enforced than they were when the City of Westminster secured the rebuilding of the Carlton Tavern. We await Croydon Council’s opening move.

The Picture Palace in Ponders End (EN3 4AQ), which closed in May 2021, has a fascinating history, as reported here. Formerly owned by Hawthorne Leisure, the current owners, The current owners, Tiger Bay Ltd, have submitted a planning application to convert the pub, formerly owned by Hawthorn Leisure, into a restaurant. CAMRA’s Enfield & Barnet branch will be opposing this. The application says that the restaurant will be a ‘community facility’ but Philip Ridley, the branch’s pub protection officer for the area, commented, “A pub is a community asset, whereas a restaurant is just a place to eat. For many of my neighbours, the Picture Palace was where they met socially and a lot of people no longer have a place to meet their friends now.” The area has seen a high level of pub loss and very much needs the Picture Palace to reopen as a pub.

I last mentioned the Still & Star in Aldgate (E1 8AH) three years ago. At that time plans were approved to redevelop the group of buildings which include the pub. A replacement pub was included in the plans. No work started on the site however and nothing happened until 4 January when a company called 4C Hotels (2) Ltd applied to the City of London to vary the original application. Happily, the provision of a replacement pub is still included.

A sad situation has arisen at the Thornbury Castle in Marylebone (W1H 1DN). This is another case where the pub owning business, in this case Stonegate, has decided not to grant the existing tenant a new lease but are turning it into a managed house instead. I have seen the pub described as ‘the best pub in Marylebone’, so Stonegate’s manager will be taking on a thriving business. This is the most backhanded of compliments to the tenant. As this counts as a change of management, the pub has been deleted from the Good Beer Guide.

Haringey Council have approved an application for the Victoria in Highgate (N6 4QA) to be converted to residential units while retaining the pub on the ground floor. What is interesting is a clause that the council included in the permission as follows:

Prior to the occupation of the residential units hereby permitted, the applicant (or successor in title) shall have fitted out completely the ground floor Public House (Sui Generis use class) unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority. Reason: In order to ensure that the public house is operational to preserve the character, appearance of the conservation area, vitality and viability of the community facility.

So often, with ‘Trojan horse’ developments, we have seen the space created for the promised pub left empty and eventually let for other purposes. Hopefully inserting requirements like this will prevent that from happening.

In the case of the White Hart in Merton Park (SW19 1LY), the pub is being demolished as part of a larger development. The plans provide for commercial units but do not provide for a replacement pub. CAMRA’s South West London branch are objecting accordingly.

Other Deletions from the Good Beer Guide 2022
Following their change of ownership from Barworks to Urban Pubs and Bars (see page 22), the following pubs have been deleted from the current guide:
Commercial Tavern, 142 Commercial Street, E1 6NU [Page 250]
Exmouth Arms, 23 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL [Page 244]