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England’s oldest gay pub wins listed status

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A Victorian pub in London considered to be one of the nation’s most historically significant gay venues has been awarded a grade II listing

Heritage minister Tracey Crouch backed a call to offer protected status to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern following a campaign supported by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Lambeth Council.

Prominent architects including Simon Atkinson, Nigel Coates, Fernando Rihl and James Soane also joined the campaign.

The pub, believed to have been designed by architect James Edmeston the elder and completed in 1863, has been a base for the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer (LBGTQ) community for decades, and is renowned for its cabaret.

Roger Bowdler, director of listing at Historic England, said the tavern boasted an impressive curved façade and strong architectural presence, meaning it combined special architectural and historic interest in a national context.  

‘Royal Vauxhall Tavern is an enduring and important venue for the LGBTQ community,’ he said. ‘Built on the site of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, it carries on the tradition of alternative and bohemian entertainment which is bound up in this part of London’s history and identity.’

Lambeth councillor Jack Hopkins, who wrote to culture secretary John Whittingdale endorsing the campaign, said it should be a source of pride that the borough now had a building listed and recognised for its importance to the LBGTQ community.

‘There has been a tremendous amount of work from local people and Lambeth’s planning and conservation officers so this a great achievement for everyone involved,’ he said.

‘The grade II listing gives Lambeth Council, as the local planning authority, more power to reject any future proposals to demolish and redevelop the site.’

Only two weeks ago 21 ‘rare and overlooked’ inter-war pubs were given listed status (see AJ 28.08.15) and Historic England is currently on thehunt to find Britain’s best post-war public houses for a forthcoming project which could see a further tranche of watering holes listed.

The full listing entry for the Vauxhall Tavern can be read here.


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