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Future of 35 pubs to be protected

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 July 2019

The toilets at The Bow Bells, Bow Road, are supposedly haunted. Picture: Google

The toilets at The Bow Bells, Bow Road, are supposedly haunted. Picture: Google

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Dozens of our best-known pubs - from the one where Brunel drank while he built one of the great Victorian steam ships to a hangout of the Krays - are set to be granted protection from developers.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP in The Bow Bells during British Pub Week 2011. Picture: Joe LordJim Fitzpatrick MP in The Bow Bells during British Pub Week 2011. Picture: Joe Lord

Tower Hamlets Council has identified 35 venues - almost a third of the borough's pubs - it wants to list as assets of local importance.

The listing gives the protection to buildings not considered grand or of important enough historical value to be registered by Historic England.

It means developers wanting to build around them will have to ensure they preserve the pub and its characteristics.

Tower Hamlets is believed to be the first local authority in the country to offer protection to dozens of pubs at the same time and said it wanted to protect them because "public houses have been an important focus for community life and interaction for centuries".

The Marquis of Cornwallis, Bethnal Green, was a favourite watering hole of 1960s gangsters. Picture: GoogleThe Marquis of Cornwallis, Bethnal Green, was a favourite watering hole of 1960s gangsters. Picture: Google

Among those set to be locally listed are The Ship Inn on the Isle of Dogs, which Isambard Kingdom Brunel is said to have drunk at when building the Great Eastern steam ship at Burrells Wharf; The Bow Bells, Bow, whose haunted toilets have attracted ghost hunters from around the world and Marquis of Cornwallis, Bethnal Green, a favourite with 1960s gangsters.

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The George in Blackwall, which was visited by film star Jayne Mansfield in 1959 and used as an unofficial meeting place for the original Millwall Football Club in the 1890s, is also among those set to be locally listed.

In the past 18 months more than 1,140 pubs in England and Wales have closed down, with many either demolished or converted into homes or offices. Big cities and the commuter belts have seen the biggest declines, according to ONS.

In 2015 the Joiner's Arms in Shoreditch, one of Britain's most famous LGBTQ pubs, which boasted Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane as customers, closed to make way for a housing development.

The 165-year-old Carlton Arms in Bethnal Green closed in 2018 so flats could be built above. Developers had said they would retain the pub, but it was demolished last September.

Tower Hamlets now has 130 pubs - 75 fewer than in 2001. Neighbouring Newham has seen the biggest decline in the country with fewer than half the pubs it had in 2001 still open.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said: "Pubs have been the beating heart of communities in the East End for generations. They are local landmarks and valued additions to the landscape in our borough. Many of those that remain still have their original features intact - a charming nod to a bygone era.

"Sadly, across the country we have seen more and more examples of traditional venues closing in recent years and it is right that where we can, we take steps to protect these heritage assets.

"The pubs that are being put forward for local listing on this occasion are all located outside conservation areas. By using the local listing process we are able to provide them with a degree of protection that they otherwise wouldn't be afforded."

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