Left: Ellie Robinson, Billy Murtagh, barmaid Lauren Boyle and Mendoza Mendoza in The Golden Lion
Top: Paul Merton and Richard Wilson in the final episode of One Foot in the Grave which was filmed inside The Golden Lion. Centre: The Golden Lion’s till, the pub is famously a cash-only establishment. Bottom: Actor Sean Bean pictured with landlady Mary Murphy
Published: 22 June, 2012
by AMY SMITH
THE Golden Lion pub is the latest Camden backstreet boozer under threat from property developers.
Landlady Mary Murphy is currently awaiting a response from English Heritage (EH) that could decide the future of the traditional pub.
EH representatives visited the pub in Royal College Street last week to assess whether the building – replete with original stained glass windows, beautifully crafted wooden bar and striking blue and gold frontage – meets the criteria for becoming a listed building.
To be listed, the building needs to be officially recognised as being of special “architectural or historic interest”.
This is the last option for Ms Murphy after the developer who bought the freehold to the building decided not to renew her lease in August.
Mick Doheny, chairman of Camden Inner London Licensing Association, fears that the pub will be converted into flats.
“The idea is to get it listed," he said. Then if a developer applies for planning permission the council would have to put in a condition to retain the pub element.
"But the developers are very aggressive and just seem to get their way.”
Last year, the same developers acquired The Parrs Head in Plender Street which is currently being converted into ﬁve self-contained ﬂats.
Regular customer Shane Gavin has been coming to the Golden Lion for 16 years.
He said: “I would miss my friends and the landlady more than anything else. It seems like we’re losing every backstreet pub in a mile radius.”
Mr Doheny hopes that The Golden Lion can follow in the footsteps of The Pineapple pub in Kentish Town, which faced a similar fate 10 years ago. Overwhelming public support and its classification as a Grade II-listed building saved it from also being turned into flats.
This is a difficult time for pubs, with rental prices in Camden showing no signs of slowing down breaking up the property into apartments is very profitable.
Readers may have happy memories of The Stags Head in Hawley Road, The Black Horse in Royal College Street or famous music venue The Falcon in Wilmot Place. They are all now luxury residential blocks.
A number of other pubs are under threat or are waiting on decisions regarding their future, including The Crown and Goose, The Cock Tavern, The Sovereign and the Devonshire Arms.
Denny Murphy, landlord at The Sovereign in Stanhope Street, suddenly found out last week that, without consultation, the property had been
He said: “It’s terrible, to be honest. It’s not a good place to be because you’re not sure. I could be turned out on the side of the road. All I want is to live out my days here. It’s a nice community pub and we get nice people here.”
A petition to support The Golden Lion has already attracted celebrity endorsement. Last week, actor Sean Bean dropped in for a game of pool and added his name to hundreds of other supporters.
The pub has appeared on TV screens as the location for the final episode of the popular sitcom One Foot in the Grave and for the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, Cash vs Card. It was the ideal choice as the pub only takes cash.
As testament to the strong camaraderie between local publicans, a copy of the petition can be found behind the bar at most pubs in the area.
You can show support for The Golden Lion by logging onto the Golden Lion's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheGoldenLion
or better still, visit the pub in person!
• View Beating the Recession – Cash Vs Cards / Channel 4 Dispatches 4OD: www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#335844