The London Pubs Group

Promoting historic pub preservation and good pub design in London.

jane jephcote with pint of real ale

The London Pubs Group was established in the early 1990s to promote the preservation of historic and architecturally important London pubs. Meetings are held regularly (six times a year) and are open to any CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) members who wish to attend.

During 2020 the meetings will be held at the Ship, 68 Borough Road, Borough, SE1 1DX (the nearest underground station is Borough). Crawls are also arranged about six times a year and are open to all, whether CAMRA members or not. The crawls usually concentrate on historic pubs but occasionally new or refurbished pubs are included in order to assess the quality of the design.

  • View forthcoming meetings and pub crawls - Events
  • Discover a wealth of historic pubs - Pub Crawls

Celebrate the Festival - Saturday 1 February 2020

London has lost many of its post-war pubs. A notable survivor is the Festival Inn, Poplar, which takes its name from the 1951 Festival of Britain. The pub, owned by the Ei Group, has a rare intact interior and consequently was presented with a certificate recording its listing on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. Geoff Brandwood from CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Group made the presentation and Elain Harwood of Historic England, an expert on post-war architecture, gave a talk about the architecture of Chrisp Street Market, now a conservation area, and its links to the Festival of Britain. The presentation took place on Saturday 1 February 2020. The event was followed by a tour of local pubs. The full address is 71 Grundy Street, E14 6AD and the nearest DLR station is All Saints.
Jane Jephcote and Andy Kinch

Pub Design Awards - The Sekforde

The Sekforde, Clerkenwell, was Highly Commended in the Refurbishment category for the 2018 CAMRA Pub Design Awards. Below are extracts from the CAMRA press release:

The pub, which has been in operation since 1829, remained open without a break for 176 years until it was temporarily closed for a much-needed re-development, repairs and restorations in 2015. Architects Chris Dyson and Associated worked with the Magnificent Basement Company Ltd to carry out the redevelopment work to restore the pub to its former glory - capturing all the charm of a late Georgian Pub whilst offering the very best in modern facilities.

The Sekforde stands at the confluence of two historic and unspoilt early 19th century streets in the heart of Clerkenwell London. The historic building has been tied to a beautiful new extension by a striking glass atrium and the artist Anthony Eyton RA has crafted a beautiful quadriptych which hangs on the far wall of the atrium.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “The refurbishment has transformed this handsome late Georgian building inside and out, returning it to restrained elegance and respecting its early nineteenth-century origins. “The bar downstairs is refreshingly uncluttered, with plain wooden panelling and bare floorboards. Unlike many pubs where keg fonts dominate bar counters, the keg dispensers at the Sekforde are confined to the ends of the counter. A charming mural depicting Sekforde Almshouses of 1587 in Woodbridge, Suffolk, dominates the wall at one end of the room and ground source heating and cooling means that the pub uses roughly 15% of the energy of a conventional pub of its size. All in all the pub has been refurbished in a very sensitive way.”

Owner David Lonsdale said: "We are delighted by this award which recognises the restored beauty of the Sekforde. It is especially pleasing to receive it from CAMRA, which has done so much to defend the wonderful tradition of pubs in this country. Of course, what really makes a pub is its staff, customers and beer. We have the very best of all three!"

Next pub crawl

Postponed - date to be announced. Evening Tour of Former Courage Pubs in Southwark, Borough and Bermondsey

Our previous pub crawl was...

Saturday 15 February 2020. Hostelries Along the Hogsmill: Daytime Pub Tour of Kingston and New Malden

London's Heritage Pubs

The CAMRA Pub Heritage Group (PHG) maintains a record of those pubs that contain interiors of historic importance. They are separated into three categories: those with an interior of National Importance (NI); those with an interior of Regional Importance (RI); and those with an interior of Some Regional Importance (SRI). Unfortunately the new PHG website does not have a list of all London's heritage pubs, but can produce a list of those pubs within a 25 mile radius of the centre of London. This list inevitably includes about 30 pubs that are not within our definition of London (i.e. the London boroughs), but are nonetheless certainly worth visiting. The listing is here: London Listing.

The London Pubs Group maintains a fourth category of those pubs that do not meet the requirements for the three categories maintained by the PHG, or are awaiting assessment for promotion to those categories. This is known as the London Local Inventory. The London listing, including all four categories and lists for London boroughs, is here: The London Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors Index (although all the pubs currently on the London Inventory are listed, in some cases the information is not yet complete). The Local Inventory Selection Criteria, and how to nominate pubs for the Inventory, is here: Local Inventory Criteria

Campaigning to save historic London pubs

Many historic pubs in the capital have been closed down for redevelopment spelling the loss of centuries of heritage.

Saving Your Local Pub

CAMRA has produced a comprehensive guide spelling out the processes that can be used to attempt to save a threatened pub. It can be found here: Saving Your Local Pub

Assets of Community Value

ACVs - the best thing since sliced bread? What could be sexier than SI 2015 No 659? To be honest, these things probably haven't been said in the context of the new protections afforded to pubs registered as ACVs, but there is absolutely no doubt that ACVs are now much more important than they were. Read what Geoff Strawbridge, Greater London CAMRA Regional Director, had to say about pub protection in the June/July 2015 issue of London Drinker: Protecting Our Pubs

As always, the devil is in the detail. Read the seminal analysis that James Watson, CAMRA's London Pub Protection Adviser, produced for the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of London Drinker: James Watson on ACVs

Then in 2017 further protection for pubs was introduced:

Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017

The Lords introduced an amendment to the Neighbourhood planning Bill that would remove certain permitted development rights. The Government adopted the changes, bringing them into force by way of a Statutory instrument. Thus with effect from 23 May 2017 owners or developers were prevented from demolishing a pub, or changing its use to anything else, without first obtaining planning permission. This was a massive campaigning success.

Mayor of London supports London's pubs

In June 2018 the Mayor of London called for a united effort to help save London's pubs. Read about it here: Mayor of London on Pubs

The Alchemist, London SW11

This is another example of a developer apparently trying to ride roughshod over planning regulations. See what Jane Jephcote, Chair of the London Pubs Group, had to say to Wandsworth Council in response to the 2016 retrospective application to demolish this building: The Alchemist - Planning Objection. But in September 2016 Wandsworth Council gave retrospective approval to the demolition of the building, and subsequent rebuilding to include residential accommodation on the upper floors, but included a condition that the ground floor had to remain in pub (Planning Class A4) use. The story didn't end there. In December 2018 Wandsworth Council refused an application to change the use of the ground floor pub area to business/professional, cafe/restaurant, or takeaway business(es), because of the loss of a community asset. Having apparently not got the message, in March 2019 the owners submitted a further application, this time to change the use of the ground floor pub area to Planning Use Class D2 (Assembly and Leisure). Once again, much to their credit, Wandsworth Council refused this application because it would "result in the loss of a public house of historic and community value". The saga continues; in October 2019 an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the most recent of Wandsworth Council's earlier two refusals has been made. The Planning Inspectorate should of course dismiss the appeal and support Wandsworth Council's position, but unfortunately they don't have a good track record in this respect.

Articles on Historic London Pubs

The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick -photo credit Kim Rennie 2005

Articles on heritage pubs are always welcome. We currently have a number of articles including one on the artist Mick Smee, who has produced a number of paintings of heritage pub interiors.

If you wish to submit an article and/or a photo for this page, please e-mail them to Jane Jephcote at ku.gro.puorgsbupnodnol@ofni.

The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick, W4 -Photo taken by Kim Rennie 2005