Award for landlady who won nine-year battle to save Grade II-listed pub in Stepney
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Battling pub landlady Pauline Forster is getting an award after a pig’s ear of a war lasting a decade to defeat east London developers wanting to put up a block of flats on her doorstep.
The Campaign for Real Ale has voted for Pauline who has “done something significant for pubs or beer in London” to receive the John Young award at their Pig’s Ear fest.
Pauline has saved Stepney’s Grade II-listed George Tavern in the Commercial Road in a flap against Swan Housing Association putting a six-storey building up against the premises in a planning war that started back in 2008.
Pauline soldiered on, enlisted support for her ‘Save the George’ campaign from the world of showbiz, music, film and television.
Supermodel Kate Moss donned the T-shirt back in 2008 as war was declared, along with the late singer Amy Winehouse and film legends like Sir Ian McKellen.
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The housing organisation finally raised the white flag and withdrew the whole scheme in the summer after a nine-year legal war of attrition that went through Tower Hamlets Council, the High Court, the Appeal Court and even to the Secretary of State.
The tavern with its original Georgian architecture and fittings, is used for high fashion photoshoots, period drama filming and music gigs which have launched top rock bands over the years. It has been used as sets for documentaries on The Krays and dramas like Sherlock Holmes.
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The block of flats would have destroyed its natural daylight — not to mention its late-night music licence being put in jeopardy by the new neighbours next door complaining of the noise.
Music venues like the George are a declining breed and are much in need of protection.
So the Camra organisation is giving Pauline a hard-earned engraved ‘battle shield’ at the Pig’s Ear beer festival in Hackney on Tuesday, to be presented by Torquil Sligo-Young, nephew of former Young’s Brewery chairman John Young who the award is named after.
The George dates back to the 18th century, although an earlier tavern on the site was used as a half-way house by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in the 1640s during the Civil War, long before the Commercial Road was built. There’s been a tavern on the site as far back as the late Middle Ages, a precedent Pauline used in her 21st century campaign against encroaching developers.