Camden Town where art though?

I have an issue with my beloved Camden Town

Before I start my rant, I first want to highlight the whole point of it.  That is the planned closure of my local drinking den

The brewery plan to sell off the pub to make 4 flats.  Of course this is irrelevant to you but you do get the benefit of some of the stories that are centred around it now and then

The planning application is closed but a petition is available to sign here

A brief history:

A pub has stood on this site for 250 years

It is a legendary drag/cabaret venue, many TV stars, Lily Savage, Danny La Rue awell as famous artists from the gay scene started life here.

Yes, it’s a gay bar, but no ordinary gay bar, the pub part is a regular boozer welcoming to all.   I’m a pretty crap gay man, I have never fitted in most bars as the music is shockingly bad, ok the music in The Black Cap is not up my street either, but bear with me.  Most bars on offer are of a particular type and serve a specific purpose.  There is nowhere quite like The Black Cap which is friendly and laid back, it’s a proper pub, not a bar, people sit and chat, we laugh and we get drunk.

It holds so many memories for older patrons who have made it their second home for 40 years, it is also essential for young gay people coming out to have somewhere to slot in without intimidation, be welcomed in a friendly atmosphere and feel comfortable.

You may think it sounds like a leather bar due to its title, but it’s not, the origins of that name date back to The Mother Black Cap hundred of years ago.  So any connotations are purely coincidental!

More importantly in a busy city with numerous pubs it’s a place that people know you, the bar staff are your friends.  I have made some of my best friends here and has been crucial to me feeling like I fit in.   I also get served quicker since I’m a regular – where else will they know what I drink and I can jump the bar queue?!     We need places like this where you can drop in after work and you will know people there to share a pint with.

The fact a whole community will be uprooted, and really have nowhere else to go due to closures of most other venues in North London, and all for the sake of 4 flats.   So it is not even solving a housing need.    Who will want a flat on Camden High Road, overlooking a bus stop where people waiting for a bus will be standing in their doorway out of the rain and smoking – its hardly desireable.

Onto the wider picture, this is not just The Black Cap under threat, about 4 pubs in Camden are under the same threat from greedy developers cashing in on its popularity.  The irony is that the nightlife IS Camden’s popularity, without this the people won’t come, so to be tearing them down to put flats in is self-defeating.

There is also the issue that many buildings in Camden have been derelict for years and the council has made no efforts or demands on the landlords to renovate them and make them habitable, they sit as ugly eyesores, they are prime for development.   Why lose something solid when others sit decaying.

Camden Town in my eyes is the heartbeat to London, the centre of the city’s music scene, its busy streets the veins, the people ambling up and dow to the lock and the market are it’s blood….now I’m not sure what the pubs are, someone will help me right?  You get my point though?

Britain has a problem with creating indentikit high streets, the same coffee chains, the same mobile phone shops, bars become chains and you can be anywhere in the country.  Camden retains it’s character but people are trying to erode that, they want it to be indentikit.  Starbucks operate from a historical building which by law must devote half its space as an information centre on Camden’s history.  Of course Starbucks are trying to push it to one side and install more seating, intent on removing Camden from its walls so it can be just another Starbucks chain amongst  millions.

Whilst this is currently my local under threat, it could be yours next.   Please sign the petition, if only to send a message out that we don’t want places where people gather and socialize to be replaced by generic businesses and poor quality housing.   We want a good pub and a good drink and a bit of banter, what in life is better than that.

Leave a comment


  1. Although I can’t sign the petition, I feel your pain. The homoginization of every city, neighborhood and exit-ramp in the world seems to be nonstop. I hope they are able to save your pub.

  2. I signed it, and shared it on Twitter. I only have 30 or so followers there, but maybe some of them will retweet it too. How can they try to take your drunkenness away? Just another chain shop would be so depressing. That pub should be a historical landmark…

  3. I tried to sign it again with another email, but it knew it was me. 😉

  4. Is there a chance for historical landmark status?

    They have been rehabbing downtown Los Angeles for a number of years. People are no longer afraid to live in their highrise secured condo, while all the people who have been displaced by the new lofts have got nowhere to go. “We’re making housing available,” the developers say. They don’t care that only 1% of the people can afford to live in their available housing. “Developer” is a dirty word.

    • We’ll try everything we can to persuade them to reject the plans. It happens to often and with the Olympics here the Government having already forced people to move so they can build the stadiums, they are now trying to force people on social housing to move about 200 miles away to other towns.

      • Its sad to know it happens every where, just like it always did. Hmm, that’s a good piece of land there, Smith. Next thing you know Smith no longer owns that good piece of land and its gone to the common good. A little bit of “communism” still exists all over.

      • That is crazy Joe. Chain yourself to the building or something…

        • I’m doing it in my usual heavily researched way.

          I have checked their company acounts and the history of the brewery owner. He has tried the same tactic in the last year on 3 other of his pbs to convert into flats, if anything it shows he has no interest in maintaining a community.

          He also has had a lot of business liquidated, he last sent his pub company into recevership only to buy the pubs back off the administrators. I usual ploy here to then write off debts and then start up again afresh, probably got the pubs back on the cheap once the assests were stripped.

          This can hopefully help the appeal as it shows he has not the best interests of the sustainability of the area or the community.

          There is a nightclub downstauirs which they say will remian open but it has no windows! If they think they will get all the people who enjoy the beer garden in Summer (one of the best in Camden) so sit in the dark then they are foolish. And who wants to live above a nightclub when you are spending probably £500k on an apartment!

          • Totally. It looks like you have a l

            • Sorry, I accidentally hit post too soon. I was going to say it looks like you have some really good information. Will they bring it to a meeting to vote on it?

              Also, good morning/afternoon 😉

              • Hey, he just had anothe rpub granted permission 2 weeks ago for the same conversion of the upper floors. In the other pub they are for staff and the kitchen whcih will be chnaged leaving the bottom pub.

                My pub has the pub on upper floors so wants toc lsoe that and leave the nightclub and convert that to a daytime pub too. In theory it looks ok but I know the flats will complain of noise and be closed anyay, and we lose the garden as that is a roof terrace off of the first floor pub. Anyway, won’t bore you with the details! It’s gonna be a bloody fight. I am just tired of them changing my area, sucking the life out of it.

        • That sucks and the details aren’t boring. What about all the people who work there? They will just be out of luck? When are they talking about doing all of that? Also, it doesn’t make sense why they would do it if the pub stays pretty busy either. I could see them destroying a pub that never has any customers, but one that is popular seems stupid business planning.

          • Would take forever to convert upstairs so they would want the clib open, a dark bar in day time, will be really seedy. In time for Summer! I’d raher sit outside. Makes me so mad!

  5. Awww, that sucks. I hope your pub gets a reprieve.

  6. Bunch of Mother Starbuckers…

  7. This sounds like “Cheers!” where “everybody knows your name.” Too bad the developers can’t be forced to buy up the derelict buildings & make them over into livable space. Although there may be a down side to that as well, you could get a bunch of newcomers living in the new places trying to force you out of your “local” anyway. But this is very sad. I wish I could sign your petition. Good luck!

  8. Signed – Good luck – pubs are what makes our country so great!

  9. When you get a chance, it is about time to check in with me Joe. I need to know you made it home from the pub okay. 😉

  10. Aw, what? Believe it or not, I only visited Camden for the first time this February just past and it made my trip to London: yes, there are cheesy elements like the hundred Indian market stalls with the same three t-shirts on rotation and the ubiquitous Starbucks, but my cousin (who lives in London) loves Camden and if it’s cool enough for him (he’s in a band, need I say more 🙂 I love the diversity there, the food, the atmosphere and the big den of antiques and weird shops that defy the high street blandness.

    I know what you mean about a familiar stomping ground, in a big anonymous city they are so important. P.S. There’s no such thing as a crap gay man. Gay men are fabulous, and I love them all, full stop.

    • 😀 I get grief for not liking pop music and liking football. Each to their own.

      What’s the name of your brothers band? my friends play arund Camden a lot, I may have seen them, or would check them out.

      What they are doing to the market is another thing, they have increased rents ridiculously driving out all the individuals designing their own stuff, so it is just the same old tourist tat now. A friend had a great stall there but rent got doubled overnight and he had to leave.

      Glad you liked Camden. If you’re there again we’re always at the bar!

  11. Starbucks sucks… It has no soul. It is a poor representation of my country.

  12. Hey Joe. I just heard they’re putting missiles on the tops of buildings in London because of the Olympics. Man, hope that doesn’t happen where you live. I think the Olympics is the culprit.

    • That’s right, so the debris would just cascade upon built up London. They haven’t thought that one through, unless they arm the missiles with fireworks and just say it was an impromptu display.

      I’m about 20 minutes on the train from the Olympic site, I’m more central. I won’t be going near it.

  13. I just happened to see this post on your home page and saw Camden Town so I had to read it. Man, I miss Camden Town. I lived in Kentish Town so I was down there all the time. It’s one of my absolute favorite areas in all of London. What’s the latest with the Black Cap, anyway?

    • You may have mentioned that before, how did I forget! How amazing you lived there, I’ve lived in kentish town too, and that and camden I both love. I’ve been giving camden my undivided attention tonight, bit tipsy. How long ago were you here? I wonder if its changed, what were your favourite haunts, I will go and photograph them. The cap is safe for now, we won the latest battle. I am now saving to buy a place, it will mean leaving as my tiny house costs half a million to buy, so will be moving further out, still, thats a couple of years and many more pints of beer away.

      • Madame Weebles

         /  October 12, 2012

        I was there 20 years ago so it’s been a while. I lived in university housing (converted council housing) west of Kentish Town Road. But I loved hanging in Camden. Is Ruby in the Dust still there? That was one of my faves. Also a few random pubs and kebab houses. And the fish & chip place right around the corner from the Camden Town Tube Station. And the Sainsbury’s on Kentish Town Road was one of my favorite supermarkets ever.

        • joehoover

           /  October 12, 2012

          Sainsbury is still there, I live 5 mins walk away. I had to google Ruby in the Dust, long gone, it;s been Camden Kitchen for ages, a brunch kind of place, I go occasionally when I can’t be bothered poaching my own eggs. You were there in the real punk times, it’s saturated now, still has pockets of greatness but they are doing their best to get rid of that, forgetting that’s why people come here. I keep meaning to do a day in the life post abut camden. The only post I did was a piss take (Camden Town is not Disneyland) I will show my love for it soon.


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