East London council protects historic pubs with local list status

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Heritage assets: Tower Hamlets Council has added multiple historic pubs to a local list recognising their historic importance (images: Chris Whippet, Geograph)
Heritage assets: Tower Hamlets Council has added multiple historic pubs to a local list recognising their historic importance (images: Chris Whippet, Geograph)

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Historic pubs in a London borough have been granted a protective local listed status, which will help protect their vibrant histories from developers.

Council officers in Tower Hamlets, east London, decided to add 37 historic pubs to a local list recognising venues’ “architectural, historical and townscape significance”.

The council created a selection criteria and public nomination process for the addition of buildings to the list in September 2017.

The public were consulted on adding a total of 41 buildings to the list, which the council said would give recognition to valued heritage assets and ensure they are protected and enhanced. 

The list recognises buildings that are not deemed nationally important enough to receive statutory listing but are locally important. 

It means that when planning permission is considered for the sites their inclusion on the list will be taken into account in the process.

Pubs on the list include drinking haunts of the East End gangster Kray twins and sites with noteworthy architecture including from the Victorian and inter-war periods. 

It is thought the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel may have frequented the Ship pub, in Island Gardens, while he built the Great Eastern steam ship next door at Burrells Wharf in 1858.

Another site, the George in Blackwall, was used as an unofficial drinking point for Millwall Football Club in the late 19th century.

Nod to a bygone era

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.”

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said the local list was a unique way for the council to acknowledge and protect its historic pubs and welcome news.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “It is fantastic to hear that Tower Hamlets has taken concrete steps to protect 37 historic pubs across the East End. 

“Pubs play a hugely important role to our heritage, wellbeing and national economy – from stunning architectural designs that have stood the test of time, to street-corner locals that still offer a communal space for local people to meet and make friends.

He added: “Using local listings is an innovative way to give pubs extra protection and sets an example that other local authorities may wish to follow. 

“The pub and beer industry supports nearly 900,000 jobs across the UK and contributes £23.6bn to our economy – their importance simply cannot be overstated.”  

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