Soon all roads will lead to Greenwich and, in anticipation of the Millennium, the man behind the successful Notting Hill pub Beach Blanket Babylon has purchased the North Pole Pub on Greenwich High Road. Architects Stephen Brandis & Stephen Fletcher have refurbished the 1890s building and converted it into a 1990s bar with a restaurant on the first floor, formerly a fringe theatre (sadly, these are lean times for Greenwich theatres).
The client specified an elegant curved staircase and a snug as well as a central bar area. He also took responsibility for the colour scheme and furniture, leaving spatial rearrangement to the architects.
An entrance has been inserted on the south-west corner and three pairs of French doors on the High Street facade; the old theatre entrance has become a means of escape for the restaurant. A new reclaimed-oak floor covers existing parquet too uneven and damaged to retain (but parquet has been kept in the restaurant). The snug has a raised floor and fire; it is partly concealed behind a new curved wall pierced by tall rectangular openings infilled with vertical timber grilles. A slatted timber screen separates the curved stair (with stained birch ply treads) from the bar; 2’ x 2’ battens, cut on the diagonal, produce an unusual, raw effect on the bar front.
Stephen Fletcher describes the building as ‘very solidly built’. Floor decks are concrete, and on entering the bar the only support to the ceiling appears to be a single cast-iron column - in fact, a second column is encased in the side wall of the snug. Interacting curves dominate this refurbishment: the new corner entrance, the snug wall, the bar and the stairs which spiral up to the restaurant level. The many doors which can be opened on to the street in warm weather, the snug with its fireplace and the preponderance of timber - equally evocative of sports pavilion and hearthside - make this a pub for all seasons.