CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

A lockdown lock-in for couple who built a replica of Kentish Town pub in the shed

Popular boozer was turned into flats but former barmaid now has next best thing in garden

22 May, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Dennis Russell behind the bar in the old Mitre pub

IF you could magically bring back to life one of the lost pubs of Kentish Town, which would it be? The Jolly Anglers? The Duke of Cambridge? Maybe the Tally Ho?

Many might instead choose The Mitre, a traditional pub which was converted into private flats around 20 years ago with that familiar lament that the area was losing its best boozers.

It cannot be brought back now, but the daughter of the bar’s former landlord can at least enjoy the next best thing after her partner constructed their own version of the pub in a garden shed.

Builder David Higby has spent the coronavirus lockdown by putting the finishing touches to the masterpiece, with the Mitre pub board up and a Grafton Road road sign outside, so his partner Amanda can remember happy days – and nights – from her time in Camden.

“It was a happy time in the pub. I must have been 18 and I’m 56 now, so a long time ago now,” she said. “But if I speak to people from Camden, so many people still remember it. We had great darts teams and pool competitions, a Sunday football league, and raised lots of money for guide dogs for the blind. And we had some wild parties too.”

Her parents Dennis and Sylvia Russell had owned the pub, turning it from a bit of a wreck into a roaring success.

Amanda and David in their garden pub and, below, stools, optics and a time bell

Both have sadly passed away but Amanda, who herself worked behind the bar, still holds golden memories of when the pub was at the heart of the community.

“When my Mum died, we actually went back for the funeral in Camden because so many people knew her there,” she said. “As the funeral was driving through, it stopped at the pub in homage to it. We had so many good times there. My sister still lives up there but the area has changed unbelievably. My Dad died first and we kept it running for a bit longer but it wasn’t the same.”

She now lives in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex where the new Mitre can be found at the bottom of her garden.

“When we first got together, I moved from north London to Essex and the house needed renovating, and David has been a blessing in disguise to be fair to him: he did the work inside,” Amanda said. “But I said I always wanted one of the sheds as a pub or a bar.” “Literally, the first Christmas we were together, he bought me the sign – the name of my parents’ pub – which was quite emotional.”

The Mitre… now in Leigh-on-Sea

All of the traditional fittings have since been installed inside the shed: drinks optics, a fridge full of mixers, bar stools, a foot rest, and bar mat decorations. And there’s a photo of Mr Russell with his daughters, and a New Journal article from 1984 explaining how he had revived the pub. There’s also a karaoke set-up, and as the pub is soundproofed, the sing-songs will not bother anybody.

The family-run pub raised money for guide dogs and, below, a 1984 CNJ article about the pub and the successful darts team

The project began in December but lockdown gave David the chance to finish it.

Amanda added: “When we are allowed to, we’ll have a big party and invite friends and family, and hopefully some people from Kentish Town.”

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