Outcry after Primrose Hill pub the Prince Albert raided of historic memorabilia

Police in former Prince Albert pub. Photograph: Lars Christiansen

Police in former Prince Albert pub. Photograph: Lars Christiansen - Credit: Lars Christiansen

A heritage campaigner has told of his devastation after he watched raiders ransack a disused pub that he fought to preserve.

The former Prince Albert is now protected by shutters

The former Prince Albert is now protected by shutters - Credit: Emily Banks

As Phil Cowan walked along Princess Road on Tuesday last week he was aghast to see raiders stripping the former Prince Albert pub of its memorabilia and photographs.

He said: “They were starting to remove the last few fixtures and fittings from the pub and had made calls to cab companies to pick them up, who were arriving in droves to do so.

“Some of our last memories of The Albert like the much-loved prints and pictures were taken away forever.”

The traditional Victorian-style pub, which was adorned with Victoriana items including mirrors and pictures, had been left empty for almost two years.

“It was just awful,” said Mr Cowan, who led the campaign to preserve the one-time celebrity haunt and in 2014 helped secure its status as an asset of community value (ACV).

“The things that were taken on the night had been in there for 40 years. I am very upset and angry that the memorabilia that a whole community remembers going back all these years has just been stripped out.”

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Mr Cowan alerted the policy and Camden Council to the raid and security shutters have since been installed. According to Camden Council, the owners - British Virgin Islands-registered TXL Capital Ltd - intend to put the property on the market soon as a public house.

TXL Capital Ltd bought the pub in 2014 and have previously put up for sale for £2million, but did not manage to shift it.

The price was “hugely inflated,” claimed Mr Cowan, who said independent valuers he commissioned estimated the building to be worth more like £800,000. “People are very suspicious they will do the same again.”

Mr Cowan believes that if the pub fails to sell again. the owners will attempt to force Camden Council to allow them to change the property’s use to residential, which could fetch them a higher price.

Mr Cowan would like the Prince Albert to reopen as a pub. He said: “It’s in the middle of Primrose Hill, there are lots of tourists there and a great community - people will definitely use it.”

“They owners left it empty for two years. Any empty premises left to rot like that will attract burglars. It doesn’t help if you leave it vulnerable to entrance from the street and back garden.”

Mr Cowan is also calling on Camden Council to charge owners 500 per cent business rates on commercial properties left empty for more than 12 months. He hopes this will incentivise owners to get pubs open again.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, technology & growth, said “sadly” the council hadn’t the power to do so. “Business rates are set by central government and the Town Hall has no independent taxation powers to increase the rates to bring empty commercial properties back into use.

The council is lobbying for control over rates, he said.

“It would allow the council to be more ambitious in granting reductions and reliefs to businesses to encourage actual enterprise and deter speculation.”