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Marr-vellous to be back: Primrose Hill’s Albert pub reopened by BBC journalist after six-year closure

PUBLISHED: 14:26 31 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:26 31 October 2020

Andrew Marr cuts the ribbon to officially ropen The Albert pub in Primrose Hill on Friday, October 30. Picture: Polly Hancock

Andrew Marr cuts the ribbon to officially ropen The Albert pub in Primrose Hill on Friday, October 30. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

They might not be allowed to prop up the bar - and Covid restrictions leave the near future uncertain - but drinkers can order a pint at The Albert in Primrose Hill for the first time in six years.

Andrew Marr  and Phil Cowan celebrate with a socially distanced pint after Andrew cut the ribbon to officially reopen The Albert pub in Primrose Hill on October 30, 2020. Picture: Polly HancockAndrew Marr and Phil Cowan celebrate with a socially distanced pint after Andrew cut the ribbon to officially reopen The Albert pub in Primrose Hill on October 30, 2020. Picture: Polly Hancock

BBC journalist and local Andrew Marr was on hand to cut the ribbon on Friday, telling a group of about a dozen customers and supporters: “There are many honours in life, like appearing on Desert Island Islands or getting the Order of Merit, but there is no greater honour than declaring The Albert pub open.”

Landlord Sam Moss signed a 25-year lease last year, and despite delays and the nightmare of reopening during a global pandemic, its doors are now open.

The pub, which opened in 1846, closed suddenly in 2014 with fears that its owners would try to turn it into flats. Stronger rules from Camden Council and asset of community value status deterred them, but it has been empty until now.

Sam said: “We’ve tried to keep it broadly the same. The regular customers will recognise it as the Albert with a bit of a refurbishment.”

The Albert pub in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly HancockThe Albert pub in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly Hancock

The pub’s beer garden has partially reopened, with builders using half of it to complete the job on the venue in Princess Road. Once finished, it will have heaters outside.

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The Albert pub landlord Sam Moss,  Cllr Lazzaro Pietragnoli, campaigner Phil Cowan and special guest Andrew Marr at the pub's reopening on Friday, October 30. Picture: Polly HanccockThe Albert pub landlord Sam Moss, Cllr Lazzaro Pietragnoli, campaigner Phil Cowan and special guest Andrew Marr at the pub's reopening on Friday, October 30. Picture: Polly Hanccock

Mr Moss, 36, said a major factor in getting involved in the pub was the “beautiful area” and strong community feeling behind it. He also thought changing behaviours due to Covid-19 meant the pub would be a success, adding that the pub had been turning customers away in the first few days of its soft launch.

“If you asked somebody to picture the typical traditional London corner boozer it would be this pub,” he said. “If it had been in the middle of the city of London I wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole at the moment, but we’ve got a good deal. At the moment 98% of people in Primrose Hill are working from home. People aren’t wanting to get the tube or the bus.

“They want to go somewhere that is 15 minutes from their home, and this is the sort of the pub they can walk to now.”

Both Mr Moss and Mr Marr praised Primrose Hill campaigner Phil Cowan for his “tireless work” to get the pub reopened. Speaking to the Ham&High, Mr Cowan said: “It’s emotional. I have to pinch myself that I am back in the Albert. I think that Sam has done an amazing job with this historic pub.

The refurbished The Albert pub in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly HancockThe refurbished The Albert pub in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly Hancock

“I’ve walked past for six years every day and never lost faith, and now its reopened,” he said. Quoting the film, the Wizard of Oz, he added: “Dreams really do come true.”

Mr Marr, 61, was returning to his favourite corner seat, by the pub’s front window, for the first time in six years. While sipping a pint of Yorkshire Gold, he said: “The most important thing now is every pub has a unique selling point, and the Albert pub has that. It’s just different. It’s not a big pub, it doesn’t have Spy Sports on the TV all the time, or doesn’t have thumping music. It’s for people who like to go to the pub.”


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