In the heartwarming saga of the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London, a community’s resilience and determination triumphed, paving the way for the beloved pub to reopen its doors next month. The pub’s six-year journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, embodies the spirit of unity and perseverance that can emerge when a community rallies behind a shared cause.
The story began in April 2015 when the Carlton Tavern faced imminent demolition. Denied planning permission to convert the historic pub into flats, the owners ordered its destruction just days before it was likely to be granted Grade-II listed status. The brazen move sparked a passionate response from locals, leading to the birth of the “Rebuild the Carlton Tavern” campaign.
Polly Robertson, a key figure in the campaign, vividly recalls the skepticism that surrounded their efforts. Many doubted the possibility of resurrecting the pub, but she remained steadfast, refusing to let the matter rest. The local community, along with several councillors, mobilized to convince Westminster council to intervene.
In a surprising turn of events, the council issued a groundbreaking order to the developers, CTLX, demanding the reconstruction of the Carlton Tavern “brick by brick.” The decision was reinforced by a planning inquiry, affirming that the pub should be restored “in facsimile” – from the red bricks to the iconic tiled signage.
While some considered the task impossible, the campaigners had taken precautions. Before the demolition, Historic England was enlisted to document every detail of the pub, from plaster casts of tiles to comprehensive photographic records. Armed with this meticulous documentation, the developers had no choice but to embark on the daunting task of rebuilding the pub to its former glory.
The Carlton Tavern, with its wooden doors, fittings, and distinctive tiled signs, now stands remarkably similar to the pre-2015 era. The reconstruction not only serves as a testament to the tenacity of the community but also sets an extraordinary precedent in the realm of preserving heritage and cherished spaces.
The pub’s reopening on April 12th, coinciding with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in England, symbolizes a triumph over adversity. England’s 33,305 pubs will celebrate this day, but none more eagerly than the Carlton in Maida Vale. Tom Rees and Ben Martin, the new leaseholders, who established Homegrown Pubs last year, are meticulously putting finishing touches to the fit-out.
The Carlton Tavern, under its new management, will not merely be a pub; it will be a living testament to the power of community activism. With a renewed focus on food, the pub aims to strike a balance between being a quintessential boozer and offering a delightful dining experience.
As the doors swing open on April 12th, the Carlton Tavern will not only welcome patrons back but will also embody the victory of collective determination. It stands as a reminder that, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, communities can reclaim their spaces, preserving the essence of shared memories and forging new ones for generations to come. Cheers to the Carlton Tavern and the unwavering strength of a community that refused to be silenced!
Last modified: January 29, 2024