Three landmark pubs that need to reopen now

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Why north London boozers the Steeles, The Leighton and Old White Bear should not be allowed to slip away


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Illustration of The Leighton pub
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KENTISH TOWN: The Leighton

This former trad corner pub on Brecknock Road is in the throes of becoming another underwhelming Nisa supermarket. And yet hundreds of locals have protested at regular stages – culminating in Camden Council issuing a legal notice to developers last week, demanding the building not be used as a retail convenience store. Sadly, it doesn’t have to be complied with until late October, meaning trading can take place until then. But at least the notice requires the exterior to be restored – so, you never know, this time next year, we may be nursing a real ale in the relaunched Leighton. Here’s hoping.

BELSIZE PARK: Steeles

The industry’s most dastardly operators, Faucet Inns – they’re responsible, if you remember, for the demise of both the Black Cap and the Dartmouth Arms (before it was resurrected last year) – closed this wonderful Haverstock Hill watering hole at the start of the year, ostensibly for six months, but right now there looks like no sign of it reopening anytime soon. When we walked past the other day, we noticed they’d even ominously removed the signage. Thank goodness the Load of Hay (and formerly The Hill) over the road is about to relaunch as The Belrose.

The Sir Richard Steele pub boarded up
Boarded up since January: Steeles. Photo: SE

HAMPSTEAD: The Old White Bear

Now here’s a thing. This was always our favourite spot for a pint just off the Heath, convivial and hidden away in Well Road from the day-trippers and visitors. It had a spruce-up a decade ago and became a pretty good gastropub for a while (its team now operating the respected 28 Church Row up the hill) – and then finally closed back in 2013. Now an Asset of Community Value, there’s no sign of unlikely new owners (since 2017), private school Heathside, reopening the ground floor pub as intended. North London is watching!

Main image: Secret Artist @secretartistnw5

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