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Clerkenwell club rises from the ashes a year after great fire

PUBLISHED: 17:39 13 May 2011

Sosho Fire

Sosho Fire

Archant

The first club to rise from the ashes of last year’s £40 million Clerkenwell fire was given the go ahead last night (May 12).

Henry Thomas House, in Worship Street, which was formerly home to the Prophet bar, was decimated when neighbouring clubs Sosho and the East Rooms went up in flames in March 2010.

Now, more than 12 months later, the council have approved a plan to knock the building down and replace it with a six-storey structure, the bottom two floors of which are earmarked for a drinking establishment.

The fire was famously started by a kiss when a waitress working at Sosho, in Tabernacle Street, wanted to give a canoodling couple some privacy and lit the candle on their table half an hour later than usual.

The Ikea candle was designed to burn out after eight hours, but because it had been started after the rest, it was still smouldering when the club shut and went on to cause utter devastation.

Councillor Claudia Webbe, who represents Bunhill ward, said: “The fire really impacted on the area because a building had been around for more than a hundred years was burnt to ashes.

“Bringing back something that had this historical connection will make the area more amenable and definitely fill a gap left by the fire. In that respect it is a good thing, it means that we haven’t got a constant reminder of the fire and an eye sore. The speed with which the owners have been able to turn this around is to be applauded.”

The future of both Sosho and the East Rooms remains in doubt, however, due to an ongoing wrangle between the owners and the insurance company.

Jonathan Downey, proprietor of both clubs, said: “It has been a long time, it was total devastation.

“I am glad to see that they are rebuilding. Maybe their insurance company paid up, unlike mine.”

The application from Highgate Properties, who own the building, received no objections at the meeting. The top four floors will be office space, with the fifth floor used for residential accomodation.

Councillor Robert Khan, chairman of the Islington Council planning committee, said: “It seems to be consistent with our policies.”


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