The Carlton Tavern has risen from the ashes, and will reopen next month.
Justice is a concept that doesn’t often get meted out in plentiful supply these days, but in the case of one London pub, justice has been well and truly served. And soon, the pints will be too! After the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale closed in 2015, it was acquired by developers who plotted – shock! horror! – to convert it into flats. They were refused planning permission, and as the local community clamoured to save it and English Heritage came closer to granting the 1920s pub listed status, the developers made a rash (and fateful) decision to send in the bulldozers and knock the pub down in order to press ahead with redevelopment. Corporate greed 101, isn’t it? But the story didn’t end there…
As the pub lay in ruins, the campaign redoubled their focus. The tireless efforts of local residents, armed with the knowledge that English Heritage had come within two days of bestowing it the protection of a historical site, led Westminster Council to issue an unusual edict: ordering the developer to rebuild the Carlton Tavern, brick by brick. Helpfully, campaigners had encouraged English Heritage to photograph every inch of the historic pub, providing a handy blueprint to ensure that the reconstruction was as faithful as possible.
Every aspect of the pub was to be reconstructed, right down to the distinctive façade. Many interior fixtures were rescued from the rubble and reinstalled in the new pub, adding further charm to the rebuilt inn. Now, the pub is looking spick and span once more, and the Carlton Tavern (now under new ownership) will reopen to the public on April 12 along with thousands of other pubs across England.
It’s a triumphant for drinkers and history fans alike, helping to salvage a historic pub in spirit, if not entirely in the same materials. Those behind the campaign express the hope that the ruling sets a precedent to help protect even more pubs across the nation from a similar fate – and honestly, that’s something we can certainly raise a glass to once we’re back drinking at the pub once more!
Speaking of pubs, here are some of the oldest ones in London.
Also published on Medium.