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.