Last orders at Primrose Hill pub cherished by celebrities and locals

A cherished celebrity haunt and popular Primrose Hill pub will be closing its doors for good at the end of the month – but the resilient managers are down but not out.

Mammoth brewery Mitchells & Butlers - who gave the world Harvester, Toby Carvery and O’Neill’s - will take back the lease of The Engineer pub in Gloucester Avenue.

A campaign to save the popular watering hole took place in June - backed by celebrities including Lisa Snowdon, John McCririck, Christopher Biggins and Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh.

But the brewery will run the pub as one of their chain and disgruntled locals are vowing never to cross its threshold again.

Mr Zaim Kamal, who lives just yards from The Engineer and has been going there three times a week for the past five years, said: “It is not just a local pub, it is really an extension of our home. The people there are like family now.

“My daughter Candice is five and she walks past every day and waves in. The staff come out and see her - and when we were on holiday she was determined to send them a postcard.”

He said regulars do not wish bad luck on the new owners, but they will be carrying out an informal boycott of the premises.

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“I will not be going to the new Engineer,” he said. “Many of my friends who live around it are of the same opinion.

“You cannot come in as a big chain and recreate something that has taken 17 years to lovingly create.”

He is not alone in his fondness for the pub.

Politician Ed Miliband had his 40th birthday there and comedian Harry Hill is a fan of the food. Even X Factor heart-throb Dermot O’Leary can be found propping up the bar from time to time.

But all is not lost for true fans. General manager Ed Francis as well as the entire kitchen staff and half of the front of house team are on the move to a brand new pub in west London.

The manager hopes the team will one day return to Primrose Hill.

“We have been spoilt, it is such a lovely place to work and we had such amazing customers,” said Mr Francis.

“They varied hugely in how much they earn or how they lived, but they were united in being discerning without being pretentious. They appreciate quality but they don’t want the pomp and ceremony.

“I have made some incredible friends who started out as regulars here.”