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‘He lived and breathed pubs’: Family and friends pay tribute to former landlord who ran the Spaniards, the Flask and the King’s Head

PUBLISHED: 17:08 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 12 August 2020

David Nichol. Picture: Nichol family

David Nichol. Picture: Nichol family

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Family and friends have paid tribute to a former landlord of Hampstead’s Spaniards Inn – who died in July aged just 48.

David Nichol hangs out of a window at the Spaniards to spoil a picture of his then-chef Ben Martin. Picture: Nichol familyDavid Nichol hangs out of a window at the Spaniards to spoil a picture of his then-chef Ben Martin. Picture: Nichol family

David Nichol, who also managed the King’s Head in Crouch End, the Flask in Highgate, and the Maid of Muswell in Muswell Hill during a career in the pub trade, died less than nine months after being diagnosed, out of the blue, with brain cancer.

David’s mum Joy told the Ham&High her son had been a natural host and said the disease which killed him deserves more attention.

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She said: “David was always such a welcoming person. One year, I had a birthday party at the Spaniards, and he did so much, but he’d do that for everyone, not just because I’m his mum. He would go beyond the call for anybody. He did that sort of thing for everybody.

David Nichol with his young son. Picture: Nichol familyDavid Nichol with his young son. Picture: Nichol family

“Brain cancer doesn’t get talked about so much – it’s often simply not a survivable illness. We didn’t know much about it until David’s diagnosis, now of course it is something we are putting time into.”

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Close friend Ben Martin, who was the pub’s chef when David helped to relaunch the Spaniards in the mid 2000s, said his mate was “bloody-minded”, passionate and loyal.

He said: “He was always convinced in his own opinions, and he always knew what he wanted from a business and a pub. And he lived and breathed pubs.”

David Nichol with his young son. Picture: Nichol familyDavid Nichol with his young son. Picture: Nichol family

David, who leaves a young son, grew up in Muswell Hill and went to St James Primary School – and after a time spent working in the Alpine ski resort of Tignes, studied hospitality in Manchester before working at pubs and bars across London.

He met his wife, Emilia, while working at the Samuel Pepys, in the City, and it was at the King’s Head, which he helped relaunch and then at the Spaniards that he made the biggest impact.

Ben added: “When David took over, of course it was a very popular spot off the Heath, but we wanted to make it into a foody sort of place, and that’s how it has been since.”

After working in pubs, David continued in the industry running marketing for a number of pub companies.

He is survived by Emilia and their son, his parents Joy and Glen, and brothers Rob and Jonty. The family are sending any donations in David’s memory to the North London Hospice.


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