Illegally demolished 100-year-old pub set to open doors after 'brick-by-brick' rebuild

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·5 min read
The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London, has been rebuilt brick-by-brick. (SWNS)
The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London, has been rebuilt brick-by-brick. (SWNS)

A 100-year-old pub in London will open its doors for the first time in six years tomorrow after it was illegally demolished and then rebuilt “brick-by-brick”.

The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London, was torn down in April 2015 without planning permission by a developer who wanted to replace the 1920s building with flats.

A judge then ordered the developer, Israeli firm CTLX, to rebuild the pub “brick-by-brick” within 18 months.

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Westminster Council first got a court injunction to stop the developers turning it into 10 flats.

Then the council served an enforcement order requiring CTLX to rebuild the pub back to its original state.

The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London. (SWNS)
The Carlton Tavern was demolished in 2015. (SWNS)

CTLX refused and appealed the decision but a planning inspector found in favour of the council, following a public inquiry in May 2016.

The Carlton Tavern will finally be reopened when lockdown restrictions lift on Monday.

The landmark moment follows a fierce backlash against its demolition and a campaign by locals, including actor and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Danny John-Jules, to rebuild the destroyed pub.

The demolition happened just two days before Historic England was due to recommend the pub be granted Grade-II listed status.

New leaseholders Tom Rees and Ben Martin, who set up Homegrown Pubs while on furlough from the pandemic last year, are working tirelessly to get The Carlton Tavern back to serving pints and roast dinners once more.

The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London. (SWNS)
The Cartlon Tavern will finally reopen when lockdown restrictions lift. (SWNS)

The pub owners have been working 16-hour days to get ready for its returning patrons on Monday, when beer gardens open across the country.

England's 33,305 pubs will celebrate COVID-19 restrictions lifting, allowing landlords and restaurants to serve drinks and meals outdoors.

Rees, 34, who lives around the corner from the pub, said: "We've already had a very compressed time scale.

"I think we thought we thought that it was all always going to be May and so we were kind of planning for May and then when it was announced we could do outside of April 12, we said yeah, let's do it."

Watch: English pubs prepare for reopening of outdoor hospitality

"Since it's been announced, it's gone absolutely crazy," he added. "We are fully booked for the next two weeks and our website isn't even up yet.

"We're going to have to sacrifice a few things like some furniture inside that we were hoping to have ready for the opening which will hopefully be completed when we can get customers indoors.

"Everyone's trying to get open for the 12th so we're competing for people's time."

Rees, who has worked in managing pubs his whole career, said he moved to the area just when the pub was demolished.

He said: "A lot of campaigns lose steam somewhere but this one has just maintained a massive amount of energy and so slowly over the years as I've seen it rumble on and build momentum.

The developer, Israeli firm CTLX, was ordered to rebuild the pub within 18 months. (SWNS)
The developer, Israeli firm CTLX, was ordered to rebuild the pub within 18 months. (SWNS)

"I still thought even when it was being rebuilt, I thought it was not going to be a pub. I thought it would be the shell of a pub that would certainly be used as an estate agents or something.

"It's definitely a warning shot to developers that will make them think twice, but honestly, I don't know if this would have happened in any other council with any other makeup of people championing the cause and it's hard to know whether this has set a precedent that'll be followed later or whether it's just a unique one-off.

"There's still pubs up and down the country that are going through the same thing. There are people getting in touch with us asking if we can help them out.

"I think the majority of them won't succeed in getting their pubs brought back.”

Tom Rees (outside) and Ben Martin (inside) The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London. (SWNS)
Landlords Tom Rees (outside) and Ben Martin (inside) at The Carlton Tavern. (SWNS)

Rees attributed the success of the campaign to “some really strong-willed local campaigners”, “great coverage from the press” and the council’s “political will to do it”.

"I don't think every council's got the same level of commitment,” he said. "We hope that this is a precedent-setting pub. There's some beautiful historic pubs that fall into disrepair."

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Over the course of three nationwide lockdowns and various coronavirus restrictions, Britain lost around 6,000 bars and pubs in 2020 - nearly three times more than in 2019.

New pubs are rarely built any more, so for the two new leaseholders, it's a unique opportunity.

Rees said: "It's a really good commercial opportunity. We love this romantic idea of bringing this pub back."

A pub had been on the same site since the 1860s until it was destroyed by a German Zeppelin bomb in May 1918, and the Carlton Tavern was built in its place in 1920.

Two decades later, it was the only building left standing on Carlton Vale after a Nazi bombing raid during the Second World War.

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