No sooner do we post an item about the Half Moon, Herne Hill remaining closed for the foreseeable future (See Is Herne Hill Finished?), than word reaches us of another regrettable imminent closure of a much-loved boozer, the eighth wonder of the world that is The Capitol, Forest Hill.
The building, with its magnificent Art Deco interiors, opened in 1929 as a cinema of the same name before becoming a bingo hall in the ’70s. Wetherspoon took a lease on it and in 2001 turned it into a pub featuring – where once the silver screen shimmered – one of the finest booze altars we’ve ever seen. Upstairs in the circle the seats remain undisturbed and regular tours were given to anyone interested.
Now staff have been told that there has been interest from a third party in taking over the lease and that the pub will shortly cease trading, although no time frame has been given. Many have already been allocated other jobs and they have also been informed that the most likely next use for the building (based on interest in the lease) is, would you believe it, as a cinema.
Cinemas are alright and everything but we don’t like pubs closing, especially extraordinary ones, and so we felt obliged to go undercover for the afternoon, visit the premises, offer the locals our endless opinions and note down their responses, possibly.
Tom, 53: ‘You can keep your French films. I can’t see the sub-titles anyway. Absolutely pointless.’
Alanya, 38: ‘After working all day I want a fag and a decent pint, not Fassbinder and a fucking flap-jack’
Jim, 47: ‘Where are we supposed to go? I’m on benefits. I can’t afford four quid a pint and even if I could why the fuck would I want to drink it with ironic hipsters in sarcastic buildings?’
Robert, 38: A cinema? The gentrification brigade will love it, but you can’t get shit-faced in a cinema, can you. They haven’t thought this through.’
Half-life, age unknown: ‘I like the bit round the back where you can skin up.’