We are giddy with joy (not to mention laudanum) to be able to report that three fine South London pubs have been saved from the evil paws of developers and will be able to continue providing good times, sanctuary and pork scratchings.
Not everything in the beer garden is rosy, however, with one of our trio of saved gems the subject of a protest march this Saturday. But first, the good news…
1.The Gladstone Arms, in Borough, has escaped demolition after fending off the threat from offshore gits. The Glad has been designated part of the newly-introduced Liberty of the Mint Conservation Area, which, ironically, curtails the freedom of the minted to act to the detriment of the community – any new development must preserve or enhance the area. Hats off to Southwark Council for acting decisively in the interests of local people and against the financial clout of those who could not give a stuff about your happiness.
2. The Half Moon in Herne Hill is to reopen this summer after nearly three years of parched local throats, thanks to a deal between The Dulwich Estate and Fuller’s. There’ll be trebles all round now this iconic Grade II listed boozer has been saved and they could easily become quadruples if the campaign to reopen the Moon as a grassroots music venue is successful. Van Morrison played there, for fuck’s sake. Dylan Thomas supped there. If there’s any booze left, it deserves to be sunk by locals.
3.The White Swan in Charlton Village, as previously reported, has reopened and reinvented itself as a fine pub and music venue (of which more soon). The pub’s owners, Mendoza, hoped to build houses at the back of the pub, but Greenwich Council turned down their proposal. People feared that with flats in the beer garden it wouldn’t be long before residents complained that someone had put a pub outside their front door and demanded quiet.
So three pubs have been saved, of which two are venues and the other hopes to be. But the campaign to keep live music at the Moon took a grim turn last week when planning documents were submitted showing that Fuller’s intend to convert the venue space into a kitchen and restaurant area and suggesting that the ACV is to be challenged. So the pub is being kept, but without respecting its history or the wishes of the community. It’s a big pub. There’s plenty of room to flog your pie. And don’t tell me they’re going to sell a Van Morrison burger, with a Difficult Genius chutney, as a sop. I won’t eat it (unless it’s very competitively priced and comes with chips).
You only have to look at the tragic case of the Three Tuns in Beckenham, where David Bowie performed on numerous occasions, to see what happens when history is papered over. Cultural value doesn’t appear on spreadsheets. The Tuns is now a Zizzi instead of a landmark venue, Bowie shrine, or working spaceship.
Herne Hillians are not taking the Half Moon’s gastro plans lying down. A march will take place starting at Herne Hill station on Saturday Jan 30th at 3.30pm to protest both the controversial closure of a local shop due to rising rent and the threat to the Half Moon’s musical future. @savehalfmoonpub are planning a day of tweets to Fuller’s on Friday Jan 29th and you can count on there being more pressure put on the brewing giant. It feels like the whole city has become a battleground for the conflict between things that make people happy and things that make people rich. The 21st century is turning into a right old bundle.