A year ago, we wrote the following, now rather prescient, entry on the Bull & Gate: “This classic boozer has had a bit of a makeover. For now, it seems the old whore’s lipstick is just about in place. But for how much longer?”
And so we were sorry – if not surprised – to read in yesterday’s Evening Standard that one of North London’s most famous live music venues is now on the market for £2.7 million. It has, after all, been rather quiet on recent visits.
“Sold by its owners after 32 years,” the paper reported here. “It is thought the Lynskey family agreed to sell the 17th-century building because they wanted to move on to other projects but also due to the difficulty of keeping a music venue open in the tough financial climate…estate agent Chris Bickle of Davis Coffer Lyons said the building “will obviously appeal to investors and developers”, adding: “But we very much hope to find a buyer who can continue the tradition of live music.”
Peruse the comments section for some humorous feedback on that dastardly estate agent’s use of the word “obviously”, but here we’ll concern ourself with some advice for potential buyers:
1. Don’t just turn it into flats. Remember its heritage. And if you try, we will lead the opposition.
2. Keep the pub bit but think about how to make it work in 2012. The interior is beautiful, but the recent refurb had the smell of a hotel reception, not a rock ‘n’ roll boozer. You could strip it back and ‘rough luxe’ it, like Soho’s Spuntino, or go back to basics like the Southampton, and serve ales, and home-made Scotch eggs with lashings of candle-lit atmosphere. Or how about a strong modern British menu? Kentish Town can never have enough food pubs – and what a location.
3. The separate live venue should, of course, be maintained but how can it be integrated into a more sociable area? No-one these days wants to stand in a darkened room without a bar. Whenever we’ve gone to watch a band, we’re not surprised the live venue is often empty when the tiny adjoining bar is full of punters.
4. Or how about making the live space into a more contemporary multi-arts venue? The stage would make, in addition to a platform for upcoming bands, be a perfect theatre or cinema screen too. See the Zabludowicz for inspiration (by the way – how we enjoyed their pop-up cinema on Sunday night.)
Wishful thinking all this maybe, but you know us. Someone’s got to do it. And you lot – do you agree? Disagree? Or would it really make yet another lovely block of ‘luxury’ flats?