Posts Tagged pubs

Early doors for the Glass Works

Islington Police have sent me an update on the Glass Works pub.

The Glass Works is not a typical Islington pub, but a Lloyds/Wetherspoons venue, located upstairs in the N1 shopping centre. Nowhere in Islington is far from someone’s home, but the Glass Works is about as non-residential a location as it gets. And although definitely not to everyone’s taste (well not mine anyway) it’s popular for a cheap night out or meeting up before or after a film.

So of all the pubs in Islington, why are the police tackling this one?

Well, the major fight that took place last month was the last straw, following various violent incidents earlier in the year.

The Police have successfully lobbied the Council – as licensing authority – to cut back the venue’s opening hours. The amended license conditions are as follows:
– To reduce the hours for the sale of alcohol to 23:30 pm, 7 days a week.
– To reduce the hours for the provision of late night refreshment to midnight, 7 days a week.
– To reduce the closing hours of the premises to midnight, 7 days a week.
So it’s not exactly early doors, but now more pub than club.

The Islington Gazette has more on the story here.

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Dukes and peasants

The Independent has listed its top 50 gastropubs, and two Islington establishments are included: the Peasant (a regular haunt for Islington Lib Dems after a Clerkenwell campaign session) and the Duke of Cambridge.

The latter is named after George, Duke of Cambridge a leading C19th general, Crimean War hero and cousin of the royal family. He has a genuine local connection beyond pub names, as he got married in St James church Clerkenwell.

I recently blogged about pubs, including former pubs, in Islington. Since then I’ve come across this fascinating set of photos on Flickr, showing over 500 former London pubs. I’d not realised before that the HSBC branch on the corner of White Lion Street was indeed the former White Lion pub.

Once you start looking for them, you spot the ex-pubs everywhere. Corner sites with high ceilings or large windows, often slightly taller than the adjacent buildings. Or with giveaway details like the old pub name in tiled floors or on the pediments.

As well as the bank branch, new uses for Islington’s old pubs include a church and even a mosque.

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Fancy a pint?

One of the joys of Islington is its pubs, not the high street chains but the lovely Victorian pubs on quiet side streets.

Last night, Rich and I enjoyed a pint and the Sunday papers at the Island Queen. Hidden away opposite Hanover School on Noel Road, the Island Queen has a spectacular interior, huge and high-ceilinged – like the Kings Head on Upper Street, but without the crowds. Everything was perfect, the service, the atmosphere, the drinks and we unwound happily.

The week before, I met Lib Dem friends at the Crown on Cloudesely Road, which has endured when so many other pubs in the area have closed. One friend lives in an ex-pub on Cloudesley Place. Of the pubs on Barnsbury Road, the original White Conduit House, latterly the Penny Farthing, has become a restaurant; while the Eclipse is now flats, and the King Edward VII became the Church on the Corner. Now the King of Denmark at the south end of Cloudesley Road is due to shut next month.

Sometimes closed pubs do re-open. Most recently the Canonbury tavern. Famous for its huge garden, it closed in 2006 after growing complaints from the neighbours about noise nuisance. Now it’s reopened with compromise conditions preventing late night use of the gardens.

Neighbourhood pubs are great, but you want them to be good neighbours, not neighbours from hell.

The current 24-hour licensing laws, introduced by Labour back in 2003, were supposed to create a ‘continental cafe culture’; needless to say, they have not. Instead chain pubs and bars, with no stake in their neighbourhood, can create nuisance on an industrial scale.

Truly independent pubs are much more interested in what their community wants and are free to provide it. But under the current law, most pubs are tied to the big hospitality conglomerates. The Fair Pint campaign, backed by Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, is trying to change that.

Meanwhile in Clerkenwell, the LibDem councillors are running a campaign to declare the ward a ‘saturation zone’, arguing that the 135 pubs, bars, nightclubs, off-licences, restaurants and other alcohol outlets already in the ward are more than enough. I’ve been out with them the last few weeks, collecting petition signatures. (And yes, we do tend to end up in the pub afterwards).

Imagine my joy last week when I saw that on my list of people was one Hazel Blears: her famous flippin’ flat is just a bottle’s throw from Farringdon. As she was a Home Office minister at the time the Licensing Act came in, I was quite looking forward to the encounter: but she was out. Down the pub? Or, as one friend suggested, at one of her other homes….

What would I have told her? We’re not anti-pub – far from it. But we want decent pubs that are good neighbours and part of the community around them; not soulless drinking factories. 24 hour licensing isn’t the answer. Reforming the tied pub system could be.

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Seized Babyshambles kit donated

Some lucky Finsbury youths could soon be playing music on Pete Docherty’s guitar.

The Council took the unusual step of closing down a Babyshambles gig and confiscating their kit after a series of noise complaints at the venue. Now they’ve passed on the kit to a local youth music project EC1 Music based near Old Street.

The kit was seized back in 2005, at the then Duke of Clarence pub in Rotherfield Street, just off Essex Road.

The pub was already in decline and closed later the same year, after the landlord was evicted for non-payment of rent. It was then squatted for a while. Finally, like so many old pubs, the brewery then converted it into flats, now known simply as 140-142 Rotherfield Street.

The Duke of Clarence is not the luckiest name for a pub. The first Duke of Clarence famously drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. And the last Duke of Clarence (for whom Victorian pubs were named) was the eldest son of Edward VII, who died before he could inherit.

Hopefully the ECI Music Project has a brighter future in store.

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Fox & Anchor

When Rich was still living in the Barbican, one of his locals was the Fox & Anchor in Charterhouse Street. It was a traditional pub, John, the resident landlord, was always welcoming, it was a pleasant quiet place for an evening drink – and provided us with some hearty breakfasts during the 2005 election campaign.

Then the owners suddenly decided to close the pub. John, his wife and baby were facing homelessness. Thankfully they got another pub, in Bath. There were various rumours about the future of the Fox & Anchor. First it was going to be a pizza place, then an Indian. What would happen to the lovely pub fittings, we wondered?

Well now it’s re-opened as a pub, albeit with an upmarket makeover. The new Fox & Anchor is owned by the Malmaison group, who already have the hotel nearly next door, and has some very chic rooms over the pub. It all looks wonderful, even if it will never quite be our local again.

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Future of recycling

I popped out in a rainy lunch hour today for a pleasant lunch with Alexis Rowell.

Alexis is a LibDem councillor over in Camden, where he chairs the Council’s Sustainability Task Force. So as two environmentally-friendly folk, we met at the Duke of Cambridge, Islington’s award-winning organic pub. (Two lots of swede-topped fish pie, a lot nicer than it sounds).

Roll back fifteen years, and Alexis & I were neighbours in Highbury; we reminisced about the bad old days when Islington had a Labour council, our rubbish was collected every three weeks, and the borough recycling service consisted of about 6 bottle banks!

It’s changed enormously since then: Islington residents now have weekly recycling collections for glass, paper, cans, cardboard and plastic bottles, plus the brown bucket service for food waste. Even our garden waste gets taken away for composting (although it’s actually greener to compost it in the garden if you can).

And that’s part of the challenge. Recycling has moved from a minority pursuit to a mainstream universal service – operated on an industrial scale, to meet ever increasing government targets. That’s great for diverting waste from landfill; but the scale of the operations and the distances involved, don’t always feel very green. It’s certainly a far cry from people and communities taking responsibility for their own waste, close to home.

Alexis is a critic of the co-mingled recycling scheme that’s now the norm across London boroughs (of all political complexions), including both Camden and Islington. That’s the system where you put all your paper, cans etc in together, and they get sorted at the other end. I’ve seen how it’s made recycling easier for Islington residents and how the amount of material diverted from landfill or incineration has soared as a result. But I also think we need to start thinking now about the 3rd generation of recycling schemes.

My thinking? It will be much more focused on carbon neutrality. Combined with rising fuel prices, the ‘material miles’ will be a much bigger factor in our recycling choices. There will be more personalised packages of recycling services, reflecting people’s different lifestyles. More recycling will be integrated into shopping – as with the way your old washing machine now gets taken away when you buy a new one. More charities will offer niche recycling schemes – like recycling mobile phones for Refuge. And there will be more sophisticated individual incentives for recycling: carrots for citizens rather than sticks for councils.

Changing the way central government treats councils is key to this. Labour talk about localism and innovation and personalised services – but their central control-freak targets have the opposite effect.

The other thing that needs to change is petty party politicking about recycling. To change recycling services needs long term planning investment. If opposition parties (of whatever variety) pick holes in the service for the sake of it, it undermines the effort we all need to make to continue to improve recycling.

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Going for a song

Belgo’s Bierodrome on Upper Street has closed and re-opened as a karaoke bar.

I’m sorry to see the Bierodrome go; in prime position opposite the Town Hall, it was the obvious place to go for a drink after meetings (having stoked up at the Workers Cafe beforehand). The food – moules and frites – was good too.

The rather dull Vineyard, (formerly the Garden, formerly the Moon under Water) is not much of an alternative. Pity they couldn’t make that the karaoke bar instead……

Still, karaoke could be a treat for escapees from the Town Hall: what better way to unwind after a heated council meeting than to indulge in a burst of “Leader of the Pack”, “My way” or, of course, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”?

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