‘The community keeps us afloat’: Kentish Town pub invokes Blitz spirit to survive lockdown
- Credit: Ben Caudell
A Kentish Town community pub is invoking the Blitz spirit to try and survive coronavirus lockdown.
For the first time in its 90-year history, the Rose & Crown in Torriano Avenue was forced to close on March 23 following government orders, which co-owner Ben Caudell says was “heartbreaking”.
Now, in the same stalwart spirit which saw the much-loved free house stay open during the Second World War, the Rose & Crown is yet again dusting itself down for the common good. The pub is delivering two-pint growlers of craft beer (it’s not 1940 anymore) straight from the tap to people’s doors.
It’s also launched a scheme where people can buy discounted e-vouchers to spend at the pub when it reopens.
Ben says the community support has been “huge”, making a special mention for Torriano Avenue and Caps and Taps in Kentish Town Road, which donated 300 growlers to get the delivery service rolling.
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“We’re a community-led pub and the community helps us stay afloat,” Ben said.
“They’ve helped us massively, given us a lot of support and hopefully that will continue.
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“Everyone’s been saying they can’t wait to have a big party once this is all over, so people really want to come back and celebrate once we’re able to reopen.”
But Ben knows just how distant any sort of reopening feels right now.
With overheads “coming out of his brains”, three staff furloughed, a support grant more than three weeks in waiting, and a make-or-break loan application uncertain, Ben admits the pub’s future hangs in the balance.
“It’s so difficult to know what’s going to happen to the pub,” he said.
“We’re on our last legs – even with the deliveries.
“We don’t know when we’ll be able to reopen and we’re going to suffer massively.
“This is our life. But it’s also the community’s livelihood too.”
Back during the Second World War, the Rose & Crown had its windows blown out, narrowly avoiding a direct hit from nearby air raids.
Stationed at the school next door, the fire brigade took on the pub as its own, which used blackout blinds and kept lights low.
Customers would sing together, accompanied by the accordion, but take care when leaving to avoid fines from the local constabulary.
Vera, who ran the pub at the time, recently emailed her accessor Ben – 80 years on – to lend her support and remind him of its historic struggles.
Faced again with great adversity, the Rose & Crown will need to muster all of the spirit and support it can to look ahead to merrier times.
To order a drinks delivery call 0207 267 4305 (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm-6pm).
To buy an e-voucher visit www.roseandcrownkentishtown.com/covid-19-vouchers