Saturday, 18 September 2010


I've received an encouraging email from a reader, Russ Garrett, last night. 

Last night Russ spoke to one of the owners, Steve, who confirmed that they are trying to sell the pub. There is indeed an offer and dates on the table, but they haven't completed on a sale yet. 

The Wenlock will be open for business until the sale goes through. I think anyone who has ever bought a house knows that it's hard to put dates on these things. Steve said it might not even be until the new year. From what I've heard, the bar staff are gloomier about it than the owners (no surprises there - they don't get the cash!), which I'd wager is why they told us October/November - which is now looking like the worst case scenario. 

(Can we just take ten seconds to reflect on the week we had, and how odd it is that the Wenlock "about to be sold to developers at some point between now and the new year" now looks like good news).

But anyway, I think this is a definite chink of light and hopefully buys us a bit of time to convince people of the value of the Wenlock as a pub. 

So. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is about making as much noise as possible. It's about letting the world know how important the Wenlock is as a pub. As I said on Londonist yesterday, it may be that the developers haven't realised that it's not just any old scruffy boozer. It's about letting them know how important the Wenlock is as a pub, and how valuable it could be as a going concern (it is, after all, an amazing "brand")... and also letting anyone who might be interested in taking over the running of it have the chance of getting their act together.

This is a reason to step up the fight, though - not to rest on our laurels. I've received hundreds of amazing messages of support and will be posting them onto the blog over this weekend. I've had emails from from Hackney to Italy to Indonesia. How many other pubs could inspire such dedication? You're really something, the Wenlock Arms. 

So keep up the fight. This is the best pub in London and it deserves to stay a pub. Russ said the owners want it to stay a pub too, for what it's worth.

 Should we do a petition too? What do you think?


  1. We should do as much as we can. After all the Olympic mascot is named after this pub:

    (I mean they say its named after Much Wenlock - but beaing in mind the agency that designed it is within two miles of the Wenlock, and 200 miles from Much Wenlock, who are you going to believe).

    I'll be in there today for a few pints anyway.

  2. hoping to pop in tonight. i might even have an ALE.

  3. I spoke to Will, one of the owners, this evening and he says nothing has been signed yet, but the offer that's been made by the developers is "very very good". He also heard that they might want to keep the place open for 6 months after purchasing to see how the economic climate goes...

  4. A petition is an option, but there's probably a fair few other tactics one could pursue.

    The pubs been a regular for a fair amount of folk from both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth over the years, so there's a posse of experienced camapigners who may well be a bit narked at this.

    As a first question: has anyone spoken to the owners and asked why they're selling? is it just the size of the offer? and/or is it just the one developer who's come in with a speculative pitch?

    Perhaps its worth picking an evening to have a get together for people to talk through what they want to do about this?

  5. Facebook group:!/group.php?gid=142674799109124

  6. Flickr group:

  7. Thanks for these. Re: the offer, that's consistent with what we've heard too. I think the task is to convince everyone, as noisily as possible, that the Wenlock is an asset to the local area.

    Excellent points about Greenpeace and FoE too!

    I've received lots of info and support this weekend. Proper post to follow!

  8. Take a look at this doc ( - looks like it excludes the Wenlock from the planning application...

  9. Philip - there's apparently some loophole that allows a pub to be demolised / developed without permission or an application needed. See the Camra forum link further down this blog.

    BUT... this didn't seem to apply to the Duke of Hamilton or the Crown and Goose, which both needed some sort of permission from Camden Council.


  10. Hmmm ok, i've been having a read up. And here's what i *think*.

    You don't need any permission to demolish a building, that's not protected or listed or the like, but you do need permission to then do anything else with the land.
    So if the developers buy it there's nothing to stop them knocking it down. But then if they want to build more luxury flats on it they'd need to submit an application. And there'd be no reason for Hackney council to refuse it.

    Or at least that's what i think!!

  11. And finally a bit more:

    According to Hackney Building Control, no demolition plans have been submitted as yet. And they do have to this. But i wouldn't have thought that any such plans would be submitted anyways until after a sale has gone through.

    Two more people worth emailing tho.

    this lady: local MP

    and this chap: who wants to introduce a private member's bill to stop this kind of thing happening.

  12. Sterling work - thanks! I'm writing a blog post now about what people can do next. Had loads of amazing emails too. It really is brilliant.

  13. We need to get it listed, shouldn't be too hard given its age.

  14. Building Preservation Notices

    1.10 Individual buildings which are potentially listable can come under threat of alteration or demolition. In these circumstances [in London] the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission or the appropriate London Borough Council can issue a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) which has the effect of protecting the building as fully as if it were listed for 6 months. During this period an assessment is made, and if the building qualifies against the appropriate selection criteria it is added formally to the statutory list. If the Secretary of State decides before the end of the 6-month period that he does not intend to confirm the BPN, it expires when he notifies the local planning authority in writing of his intention. If during the life of the BPN any application is received for listed building consent for the demolition, alteration or extension of the building, and the local planning authority is minded to grant consent, it must refer the application to the appropriate Regional Office of the Department of the Environment.

    "Spot" Listing
    1.11 It is also open to members of the public to bring to the Department's attention individual threatened buildings. They should write to: The Department of National Heritage (Listing Branch), Room C9/15, 2 Marsham Street, London, SWIP 3EB. and should give the full address of the building in question and, if possible, photographs of it and a location plan. The building will be assessed and, if it qualifies, added to the statutory list.

  15. I reckon dealing with the developers, or the council are both reasonable approaches, but the crux is going to come down to the current owners.

    If they want to sell up then the pub is in trouble. If the only reason they're selling is the big offer, then they're not going to be particularly appreciative if someone persuades the developer to withdraw the offer.

    So if it does come down to the existing owners wanting to sell, then options could be, that we match the offer (i.e. if someone rich is reading this), or come up with some sort of community ownership plan, or come to sort of arrangement where they decide they don't want to sell, and that they would on reflection like to remain at the heart of the community. Maybe lots of inspiring pieces in the media as a start.

    If however outside forces are making them sell, then it's a much easier proposistion to deal with those forces.

  16. As I said in my latest post, I really don't think there's mileage in persuading the owners not to sell - they're perfectly within their rights to decide they don't want to own a pub anymore and we have to respect this.

    But what we can do is persuade people of the value of keeping the Wenlock as a pub - by letting everyone know how amazing it is, sharing our inspiring stories and getting as many people behind this campaign as possible.

    Then, with goodwill behind us, as Richard says we've got other options. I would actually add two more options to your list, Richard -
    * convincing the developers that an award-winning pub will be an asset to their development
    * attracting a counter offer from a brewery, pubco, pub owner etc

    Not an easy battle, but we think it's a worthwhile one. We've had such wonderful support that it's pretty clear people don't want to let the Wenlock go without a fight!

  17. Once A Real Ale always a Real Ale Pub.

    If The Wenlock can close down No Pub In Lodon Is Safe.

  18. hi there
    i live on Wenlock road.
    I spoke to employees in the Brewery commercial site adjacent to the wenlock; they say London Newcastle is the developer. LN has acquired the site and has given the current tenants an extended stay until december, then they are out.

    previously, london newcastle built a large and very dull yellow complex of privates flats opposite the pub.
    they have also acquired the old Initial depot at 1-3 wenlock road which for the moment they let for very 'cool' shoreditchy events... fashion shows and pop up restaurants.

    So that's at least three large sites which will presumably be development for housing and office space. perhaps they will see, or may be persuaded to see, that keeping the wenlock - an authentic cultural landmark - will increase the attractiveness and value of their investments along wenlock road...