The Catford Bridge Tavern claimed there were “tears in beers” after announcing its closure on Wednesday, but now it looks like locals can dry their eyes as Lewisham Council announces a last minute move to salvage one of the borough’s best loved pubs.
The tavern, on Station Approach, has been heralded as one of Lewisham’s greatest success stories. Known in a former life as The Copperfield, a venue notorious for its drug and anti-social culture, the pub opened its doors in March under its new name and quickly attracted a loyal following.
Catford resident Stephen Duckworth, 61, an IT professional has lived near the venue for over 20 years. He told Eastlondonlines that the pub’s transformation has been a major move forward for the area: “It used to be a place you ran past and held your breath, then it changed hands and people were starting to come to Catford again for a night out.”
He described the Catford Bridge Tavern as “the absolute embodiment of the perfect pub in every way”.
Colin McLean, 40, who has lived in Catford for 12 years said: “Discovering the old Copperfield had been resurrected as a bright new pub with an interesting range of beers was exciting. But the most important thing for me was the fact that within a few weeks I had made more new friends who live in the area than I had in years. This pub really brought together people who had just not been going out in Catford.”
But this summer the building was earmarked for development by an unnamed national retailer and on Wednesday November 21, the Catford Bridge Tavern was forced to close to make way for a supermarket.
A petition was started to stop the closure. Cllr Liam Curran, Chair of Sustainable Development Committee for Lewisham was one of the 2074 people to sign it, describing the tavern as “a great pub”.
Another local to sign the petition was Scott Tipler, who said: “This is the best pub in the area by a long way, both the Weatherspoons and The Goose have massive drug problems, this pub is the only choice for honest hard working, respectable people. Please don’t take this place away from our community.”
One Catford Bridge Tavern employee took to Facebook to express his dismay at the news of its closure this week.
He posted: “The Catford Bridge Tavern was given only an hour’s notice that the keys would be handed over today. Less than a year old and regulars were crying.”
But now it seems Lewisham Council have stepped in to scupper the new plans for the pub. On Monday an Article Four Direction was placed on the site which stops any change to the use of the pub without permission.
Thereza Matzat, manager of the Catford Bridge Tavern, told Eastlondonlines: “Luckily the national retailer who took over the building was not aware of the fact that Article Four Direction was approved last Wednesday so we are hoping to agree a sub-lease with the retailer as they will find it impossible to change the pub to a supermarket.”
In October the Sustainable Development Select Committee for Lewisham revealed that 53 of the borough’s pubs have closed in the past decade. In response to these figures the Council published a report last week stating they would “guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and public houses”.
Twitter filled with support for the return of the pub. @Lottie_the_Red described The Catford Tavern as “[the] best pub in the SE” adding, “Here’s to hoping things can sort themselves out. Fingers crossed for the re-opening!”
Yulia Raskatova, Katherine Barnet and Sophie Robinson-Tillet.