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North London pub saved by conservation area to re-open in June

By Peter Ruddick , 20-May-2013
Last updated on 20-May-2013 at 14:12 GMT2013-05-20T14:12:31Z

The Wenlock Arms is to re-open in June after the Hackney pub was saved from closure when the council decided to extend a local conservation area

The Wenlock Arms is to re-open in June after the Hackney pub was saved from closure when the council decided to extend a local conservation area

The Wenlock Arms in Islington is to re-open in June after the pub, which was reportedly a favourite of David Beckham and his grandfather, was saved from demolition as a result of a local campaign.

Heath Ball, the pub's new owner, has confirmed the venue will re-open on Monday 3 June after a small refurbishment, although a second refurb is expected to take place later this year.

The Wenlock Road pub was set to be knocked down to make way for a residential development until Hackney Council rejected the plans last year. However the historic venue was still in danger of demolition so a 'Save the Wenlock' campaign was launched which led to the council's decision to extend the Regent's Canal Conservation Area.

The move protected the venue's architectural and historic qualities and prevented any development which would change the character of the early Victorian property.

Ball, who also runs Highgate pub The Red Lion & Sun, acquired the property and has declared his intention to restore the pub's status as a destination for quality real ale. 

"I believe that there’s never been a better time to drink real ale and I hope people will return here to do it," he said. "I’ve seen too many pubs turn ‘gastro’ as they think they have to, what we’re doing here is to breathe new life into a traditional pub."

Limited

The Wenlock Arms, which Ball said would be a work in progress for the first six months, will offer a limited food menu which will expand once the second refurb is complete.

"We will have 10 real ales on pump, a great choice of lagers, a permanent stout and we’ll be stocking beer from many of London’s microbreweries as well as seeking out other great beers from across the UK.

"In terms of food, we’ll have a simple but delicious bar menu, food that is perfect to drink by, including pig sandwiches, salt beef sandwiches, oysters and hot dogs," he added. 

Conditions

When Ball and his team got on site to start the refurb they had to meet a number of conditions set by Hackney Council.

"We had to install new toilets and reinstate the original main corner door – which was fantastic, because in doing so we unearthed the original 150 year old mosaic sign reading ‘Wenlock Arms’," he revealed.

The publican is also planning to install some features in tribute to the Wenlock Brewery which was originally located next to the pub until its closure in the 1960s.

"We've put a new floor in and are painting the pub the original colours inside and out – so there’s more than a nod to the way the pub used to be. We don't want to take the soul out of the pub the way it was, but it needed work and a bit of TLC," Ball added.

The second stage of the refurb, which will begin in September, will see an extension of the floor space and the removal of the old toilets.

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