Thursday, April 22, 2021

A Pint at the Carlton


You may remember that I've written before about the Carlton Tavern. That's the pub in Kilburn that, on the eve of being listed as a historic building, was demolished by its owner, a foreign developer who wanted to build apartments on the site.

Basically, he thought he could bring in bulldozers and rip the building down without planning permission, pay a fine, and move on with his money-making scheme.

But Westminster government officials surprised him, instead ordering that he rebuild the pub brick by brick. He appealed the case and lost, and eventually did reconstruct an exact facsimile of the original structure, which fortunately had been well-documented by the preservationists who worked on the historic listing. I followed up on the case several times, here, here, here and here.

I must say I never imagined this pub would actually come back to life. How often, in controversies like this, do the developers flat-out lose? But I think Westminster Council felt that this was an ultimate test of their planning laws and processes, and they couldn't afford to let the guy off the hook. Besides, the community was outraged.

Last week, along with other pubs emerging from lockdown, the Carlton finally re-opened. Yesterday after work, I fulfilled a long-held ambition to have a beer there.


The Carlton has a beer garden in back and outdoor seating at the side, so that's where Dave and I sat with our friend Gordon. (That's Gordon facing us in his bright bicycling vest, and Dave facing away from the camera.) Dave's co-worker Carolyn eventually joined us, too.

(I said I had a beer, but actually, I had two ciders -- to be precise!)


The interior looks like it's still a work in progress, but you can see that they've restored period details like the fireplace and the moldings. As I understand it, they salvaged what they could from the wreckage of the original building, including the wooden bar.

This pub is only a little more than half a mile from where we work, so I hope we can go back somewhat regularly.

The good guys finally won!

47 comments:

  1. Maybe, just this once, your photo doesn't do the place justice. That pub's outside does look dispiriting. Neither, not that I am defending the new owner's original and possibly nefarious purposes, do I believe that everything needs to be preserved just because it's old aka "historic".

    Never one to chase the popular vote,
    U

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    1. Well, it's an iPhone photo, because my camera's in the shop -- so it's possible the photo is substandard. Also, I didn't have great light to work with. But I think it's actually a charming building, and I photographed it several times before its demolition. Needs some flower boxes but I'm sure they have higher priorities.

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  2. I have been following your posts on this story over the years and didn't need to go "here", "here" or "here". I am glad that the good guys won at last, and that you guys got to have a drink and even go inside the building. Well done.

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    1. Well done to Westminster Council for making the whole thing happen!

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  3. Let this be an example to all greedy developers and those who try to ride roughshod over planning laws. However, given the steady closure of English pubs, wouldn't it be quite ironic if "The Carlton Tavern" had to shut its doors for economic reasons?

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    1. I'm sure that is a real danger, as with any pub. We'll try to support it, but of course we have several pubs we try to support, so we'll have to spread the wealth.

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  4. I love stories with happy endings!

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  5. I wish other councils were as insistent. I know of a beautiful pub that was flattened overnight saturday-sunday because the inspectors were due on the monday to grade it for listing, which it would have got - probably grade 2. The site is now occupied by a multi-storey block of red-brick flats.

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    1. There you have it -- that's exactly what this guy expected to do.

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  6. It could become your local. So far here it seems cheaper to suffer the penalties and go on to make lots of money. Quite a disgrace really. I like City of Westminster and it is an area of London where I think I could live, if I could afford it.

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    1. I think it's standard operating procedure for many developers to act first and ask permission later, knowing that any financial penalties are just part of doing business.

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  7. I honestly can't believe it! It's glorious! How very, very satisfying to see right overcome might.

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    1. I was frankly amazed it turned out this way.

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  8. Well, I love this story! I love that the developer got smacked down. How anyone could look at that building and think "knock it down," boggles my mind.

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    1. Some people only see dollar signs. I love that he probably lost his shirt!

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  9. Yay! I'm so glad it got restored!

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  10. This is such a wonderful story. I love seeing that old pub restored. Yay!!!

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  11. Good for this council sticking to the program.

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    1. Absolutely. They pretty much had to -- otherwise, every developer would just swoop in and do what they wanted.

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  12. I'm so glad that the council won out in the end. I'm also deeply impressed with how well the rebuild turned out, it looks original, except I'm guessing better plumbing and electrical. Nice to hear of a good ending for a change.

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    1. Yeah, they did a great job recreating the look of the original building. I hope it's solid! And yeah, surely modern plumbing and electrical work can't be a bad thing.

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  13. What a wonderful old place to enjoy a pint or two. A bit of nostalgia with your beer is really nice. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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    1. It makes for a great story! I hope the place does well and the community supports it.

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  14. That is so impressive. I can't think of any other time that 'the people' won over the developers. That never happens here. The place looks very nice.

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  15. This is so satisfying, - are the tables turning? This story should be out there for all developers to take in and beware! The job done putting the pub back together is amazing! So glad you decided to have a pint and take photos. Thank you for this great ending! You and Dave and Olga could have an anniversary party there! I will buy you a pint!

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    1. Except that I hate hosting parties. If you come back to London, Linda Sue, we'll have a party of four at the Carlton (with Olga along). Or maybe five if Sarah joins us. :)

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  16. It looks to me like a beautiful building and I never would have known it was a reproduction. So glad the good guys one. The owner sounds like quite a jerk. I'm glad he got his comeuppance. I hope the business flourishes.

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    1. I do too. I wonder if the same guy even still owns it. After that whole experience he might want to be clear of it! (Especially knowing he'll never be able to develop the land.)

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  17. I'm glad this had a happy ending. The building looks quite lovely. We had a band in Canada called the Carlton Showband. They played Irish music and were named after Carlton Street in Toronto - but I bet Carlton Street was named after an English place, as many of our Canadian place names are. There's nothing new under the sun, as they say :)

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    1. Yeah, I don't know why it's called the Carlton Tavern, except that it's on Carlton Vale. (And I have no idea why the street is called that!)

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  18. I think it looks beautiful! I love the wood bar.

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    1. Me too, especially since it's at least partly original.

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  19. That would never happen here, historic buildings are only seen as a hindrance to progress, what ever that is. I am pleased that the good side won this time.

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    1. Same in Florida -- historic preservation has traditionally been terrible there. Slightly better nowadays than it used to be.

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  20. Beautiful interior, love those chairs. Dave has a very full head of hair. Is that what drew you to him? And I hope he didn't forget his briefcase on the floor.

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    1. He DOES have good hair. He always complains about it, and I'm like, "LOOK, just be thankful for it!" He remembered his briefcase, fortunately. :)

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  21. That is a great story and I like the happy ending! I am glad the developer was made to follow the rules because that is how it should be done. Too many greedy, selfish people grabbing what they want when they want it no matter who they hurt (you know who I am thinking of, I bet)! Thanks for this great report!

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    1. You could be thinking of SO MANY people, sadly! But yes, I'm glad to see the council held this guy's feet to the fire.

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  22. I'm so glad they made the developer reconstruct the Carlton. for once one of those who think they can do whatever they please got put in their place.

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  23. Wonderful that the Westminster official made him rebuild it. Losing buildings like that is a tragedy. Looks like a great place to have a pint or two.

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