Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

British Pubs Head Down the Drain

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

British Pubs Head Down the Drain

Article excerpt

DECLINING custom, rising costs and pressure from developers are forcing the closure of five pubs every day in Britain, but Britons are fighting back to save the best of their traditional boozers.

A simple white T-shirt proclaiming "Save the George Tavern" has become the symbol of support for one threatened establishment in London's East End, with model Kate Moss and singer Amy Winehouse among those fighting for its survival.

The George Tavern is a local institution. A pub has stood on the site on Commercial Road since 1654, and the existing building that went up in 1891 is a landmark in a largely deprived part of the capital.

All manner of punters visit to sip whisky on its well-worn leather seats or a cold beer at the outdated bar, but also to hear live music in the upstairs rooms that have hosted everyone from the Rolling Stones to Duran Duran.

But the pub, despite its reputation, is under threat from a proposed development of low-cost housing right next door.

"It would be like attaching a Tesco (supermarket) to the Tower of London," said Deborah Coughlin, assistant manager of The George.

The new apartments would be so close that residents' complaints about the regular concerts would be inevitable, without a doubt condemning the pub to closure, tavern manager Pauline Forster said.

When the building plans first surfaced, Forster took action, calling her musician friends who had played at The George to rally their support.

It was Winehouse, the troubled Grammy award-winning soul singer, who came up the idea for the T-shirts.

Since then, they have been worn by Moss, actor Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and most recently American singer and actress Grace Jones.

A petition was signed by 600 people and in June, the local authorities refused the developers planning permission. A success - but the fight continues, as the developers have appealed, saying there is still a "need for cheap housing". …

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