‘Deal on the table’ for Hampstead’s Magdala Tavern, while the Albert in Primrose Hill set to reopen in 2020
- Credit: Harry Taylor
Two more Camden pubs may finally be on course to reopen, as Hampstead’s Magdala Tavern could be serving pints next year, and Primrose Hill’s the Albert is set to welcome back customers in the autumn.
Sam Moss, the landlord at the Albert, in Princess Road told this newspaper that work should be completed on the pub by October.
Meanwhile Dick Morgan gave the Ham&High exclusive access to the pub in South Hill Park as a new deal is on the table from owner Ori Calif and Mulberry One Capital Ltd.
It follows months of discussions between both landlords and the owners, after Mr Morgan and Mr Moss grew frustrated at a lack of progress in their bids to reopen the venues.
Mr Morgan, who grew up a stone’s throw from the pub said he was still “100 per cent committed” to reopening the venue. He said its owner had now offered him the chance to incorporate the upstairs function room into his plans.
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The 69-year-old said: “The original deal for downstairs is still on the table. The [owner] has come back to me saying ‘we want you to give us a deal’ on the upstairs now.
“It could open tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve got the licence and it’s ready to go, but the upstairs makes the job a lot bigger. We need to put a staircase inside so people can get up there without having to leave the pub.
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“It’s much better for the local community. It could be a function room again, an extra space for pub quizzes, or meetings, or bookings.”
The staircase was taken out during work in the last few years. A planning application for the function room to be converted into two flats was refused in March 2019 after pressure by campaigners. In a surprise move, Mr Morgan was then granted a licence in May last year.
Meanwhile in Primrose Hill, Sam Moss said he was delighted to finally open the pub after a false dawn last year. He tweeted a photo on Monday after collecting the keys, and work has begun on it being refurbished.
“It’s just really exciting,” he said. “I am stood in the garden surrounded by four to four to five years of rubbish that’s being cleared away.
“I suppose there are quite a few people who think we’re bonkers opening a pub at the moment. But it’s a brilliant pub in a brilliant area, and the garden is going to be wonderful when it reopens.”
Back in Hampstead, standing in the Magdala with architect Justin Prior - whose firm Design ID has previously worked with Emirates, Shepherd Neame, Greene King and Heineken - Mr Morgan said the budget for the work has now reached more than £100,000.
Despite more than four years of closure, the ground floor of the pub is in good condition. Bike parts and shoes are scattered on the floor of the right-hand bar, courtesy of the property guardian currently occupying the pub. The red upholstered benches are in better condition than some in pubs that are already open.
At the bar, the only drink being served is a cup of tea. Pump clips are still in place, years on, for London Pride and Twickenham Fine Ales’ Naked Ladies, the beer long since gone off in the cellars. Across the bar guitars are propped up and a painting easel stands empty. A pink hammock is stretched across the far side.
The Magdala is famously the site of where the last woman in Britain to be hanged, Ruth Ellis, shot her lover, David Blakely, in 1955.
Mr Morgan said if a deal is signed, work on the pub would begin later this year, with a view to opening it in 2021.