Friday, September 14, 2018
Rebuilding the Carlton Tavern (Finally)
You may remember the Carlton Tavern, a historic old pub which I wrote about after it was illegally demolished in 2015; I've given updates a few times since. The short version of this dramatic story is that the foreign owners wanted to redevelop the site and were turned down by the local council, which planned to consider the pub for historic preservation. So with no warning or permission the owners brought in backhoes and knocked most of the building down.
The council said, "Oh no you don't," and ordered them to rebuild it "brick by brick." As I understand it there were some appeals and legal machinations but in the end the council order stood, and now construction is underway.
I love how there's a big banner proclaiming that it's "coming back soon," like they're doing us all a favor. (I am tempted to type curse words here but I won't.)
You can still see traces of the original building behind the scaffolding. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on, but it seemed to me that a new exterior wall now exists on the east side of the structure, which had been reduced entirely to rubble. It also looks like some of the distinctive lettered tiles have been removed for replacement or restoration.
This process has taken an agonizingly long time, and of course, even if it's rebuilt that won't necessarily guarantee a return of the old pub. Will the same people run it? Will they have lease terms that allow them to make a go of the business? It will almost certainly be changed in atmosphere -- even if the builders hew closely to the old structure's architecture, it will be made of new materials, which can't help but affect its charm.
Still, it's a positive outcome overall. Westminster has shown that its building rules can't be flouted with impunity, and local residents can return to some semblance of their old watering hole. If there's a grand re-opening, I'll be going!