We attended the CAMRA meeting at the Wenlock last night and had a really good evening.
CAMRA were really supportive - thanks to John, Gerard, Catherine & co for having us along and for lots of useful advice and information.
We felt that we were united on our aims, and we thought it might be helpful to state our intentions and clarify something here. Basically, we're not against Steve and Will's decision to sell at all. We don't want to underestimate how big a job it must have been to run the Wenlock for sixteen years, and if they deserve anything it's hearty congratulations for having done such a great job. So if they want to retire, they should be allowed to do that.
What we want is for the Wenlock to stay a pub.
If it stops being a pub, if it's knocked down, or if offices are built, it can never go back. That site that's been a pub since 1835, survived the Blitz, survived 80s dereliction - that will never exist again. All that history, that community... it just ends.
Now, you might be thinking "but I don't want it to change - I love the Wenlock!"- and you'd be right. It's great. But a change of hands need not be a disaster. Pubs like the Southampton Arms show that it's perfectly possible to do real ale well and still feel contemporary. Besides, whoever took it on would be well aware that they're taking on an iconic brand that is synonymous with amazing real ale and atmosphere. But regardless, this time next year, I'd be far happier trying to convince new owners of the pub to keep the spirit of the Wenlock alive than I would be pointing at a pile of bricks and dust, and trying to explain to anyone who would listen that it used to be the best pub in London.
P.S. One request I feel obliged to pass on: I think the bar staff understand our concern but would appreciate it if we stopped all asking them what's going on. CAMRA and this blog will bring you any news as soon as we have it. So visit the Wenlock as much as you can, but do try to enjoy yourself once you're there. It is, after all, pretty fun.