As a growing number of pubs face their final closing time, ELL explores the successes and struggles of the public houses in our boroughs.
The Pub: a global symbol of British-ness.
As popular with tourists as the London Eye or Buckingham Palace, it has been an important part of our cultural heritage since Roman times.
Yet, in the last few decades this staple of British culture has come under attack.
Increasingly, ‘the local’ is no longer a focal point of the community. Instead, petrol stations, supermarkets or nondescript flats stand where pubs used to be.
The ban on smoking, the enforcement of drink driving and the selling of cut price booze by supermarkets has ensured people choose staying in over going to the pub.
While the economic recession, increase in VAT on alcohol and planning issues have all made it harder for pubs across Britain to stay open.
In the UK, four pubs close every day, the highest rate of closure since 1904, when Prime Minister Arthur Balfour’s ‘Licensing Act’ forced 10 per cent of all pubs to close.
In London alone 166 pubs have ceased running this year, according to the latest statistics from the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).
And ELL’s boroughs are not exempt. In total, 140 local pubs in ELL’s boroughs have closed in the last ten years.
Lewisham Council carried out a study last year that showed that between 2001 and 2011 a total of 31 pubs had been closed, with only two opening in their place.
CAMRA have reported that 200 pubs across Tower Hamlets and Newham have shut down in the last decade, which prompted Tower Hamlets’ Labour councillors to call a motion for the protection of pubs last month.
In Hackney, over 25 pubs have been put out of business in the past five years.
Some popular Croydon pubs, like the Black Sheep in the town centre, have had to close recently when it was decided their premises would be turned into flats.
Over the next five days, ELL will be profiling one pub from each of our boroughs.
We aim to highlight the problems our local establishments are facing to remain open and in business, and showcase what pubs are doing to ensure economic success in an increasingly difficult and shrinking market.
Friday: The Spread Eagle, Croydon
Saturday: The Chesham Arms, Homerton, Hackney
Sunday: The Lord Northbrook, Lee, Lewisham
Monday: The Old Ship, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets
Map: Daniel McCarthy
Read more about previous struggles that local pubs have faced across the ELL boroughs: