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Regulars fight to save iconic Hoxton real ale pub

PUBLISHED: 14:04 27 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 October 2010

TWO young regulars at one of London s most iconic real ale pubs have started a campaign to save it from the wrecking ball.

TWO young regulars at one of London's most iconic real ale pubs have started a campaign to save it from the wrecking ball.

The multiple-award winning Wenlock Arms, in Wenlock Road, Hoxton, is on the verge of being sold off by current owners Steve Barnes and Will Williams, who have presided over 16 years of unrivalled success.

The rumours are that it is set to be taken over by property developers, and charity worker Tessa Norton and teacher Sian Murphy are so heartbroken at the thought that their beloved local could disappear forever they have made it their mission to fight for its future.

Ms Norton, 29, who works for a community development charity off Goswell Road, Finsbury, said: "Community development is all about people power and I love this pub with all my stupid heart. So when the bar staff told us it was probably going to be demolished we had to do something.

"The current owners have done such an amazing jobs that no-one would begrudge them retiring, but we want whoever buys it to realise just how special it is.

"If it stops being a pub, if it's knocked down, or if offices are built, it can never go back. That site that's been a pub since 1835, survived the Blitz, survived 80s dereliction - will never exist again. All that history, that community, will just end.

"There's currently no guarantee that it will stay as a pub, and plenty of suggestion that it won't.

"The Wenlock is amazing because it attracts a real cross section of society - old Hoxton, new Hoxton and not Hoxton at all.

"We want that spirit to live on and we're collecting people's photos and memories of the pub so that whoever takes it over will realise just how amazing it is. This is not just some scruffy old boozer."

Tessa and Sian have started a blog, set up a facebook page and are using twitter to get as many people as possible involved in the campaign. And last week they had a meeting with representatives from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

John Cryne, chairman of the North London branch of Camra, said: "The Wenlock Arms is among the ten best Real Ale pubs in the capital and is a four time Camra North London pub of the year winner.

"The current owners bought it 16 years ago as a run down back street boozer and transformed it into an iconic real ale pub. They led from the front and began selling ales and ciders at a time when they were not that fashionable.

"They can sell it to whoever they choose, but we would love to see it stay as a pub serving the local community and people all over London.

"Real ale pubs are springing up across north London and if the Wenlock Arms were to stay as a pub the new owners would be silly to ignore its heritage."

Current co-owner Steve Barnes said: "The pub will probably go on the market this week and of course we would much prefer whoever buys it to keep it as a pub.

"We can't really control that but I can say that some recent events have made it more likely it will stay as a pub than it was looking at one stage."

- To share your memories and photos of the Wenlock Arms go to http://savethewenlock.blogspot.com


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