CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Lock Tavern set for an encore

01 November, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab

The Lock Tavern has been given a makeover

WHEN news broke in August that Camden’s famous Lock Tavern – a favoured hangout for hungover bands and a breaking ground for new music – had changed hands, there were fears that the venue’s musical heritage may be forgotten.

Not so, say new owners East London Pub Co, who have spent the past few months overhauling the venue, with a particular emphasis on a total redesign of the upstairs stage area.

No longer does the stage – which once hosted the likes of Florence and the Machine, Erol Alkan on the decks and Adele – back onto the roof terrace. Instead, the upstairs bar has been moved to the left of the room and the stage has been installed where the bar used to be, opening up the room to potential seated gigs as well as the traditional standing sets the venue is known for.

While the venue is not quite ready to confirm any gig listings yet, managers have been speaking to a promising array of promoters with a view to finalising the music programme.

East London Pub Co operations manager, Bradley Lomas, who runs the company with Patrick Frawley, has been working with his team around the clock to update the pub.

“It’s a beautiful venue in an amazing part of London that had very little love,” he said.

“We see opportunity in the site. We want to put more love back into the venue.”

While he has been focusing on updating the interior and exterior areas, the range of spirits and beers on offer and updating the food menu, as well as fitting a brand-new cellar, there have been behind-the-scenes talks with a range of promoters – including Communion Music – with a view to bringing music back to the Lock Tavern.

However, nothing has been finalised and Bradley is not yet ready to confirm any names.

“We have been speaking to a number of different people. Music will still stay on – what it will be we don’t know,” he said.

“We will have music and gigs that are free but will also be inviting promoters to bring up-and-coming artists.

“There are very few spaces for 500 to 100 people. We know that room could be an amazing space but we had to do certain things to make it more inviting. We needed a nice space for artists to change, it had to be a functional stage, not next to the patio doors where people were going in and out.

“It’s an incredible room but it was filthy and old and tatty. We’ve created a room where we’re confident we’ll have people who want to perform and play.

“We’ll have music going on in there weekly, I can imagine – whether it’s five days a week like before, I’m not sure.”

So it looks like the policy of free gigs that the Lock Tavern used to be known for may have come to an end, and future gigs will be a mix of paid and free events.

Bradley said: “We’ve put in a complete new sound system and new lighting. It’s a big upgrade to what was there before.

Bradley Lomas

“We’re having DJs every Saturday and Sunday. We’re trying to set up residencies – we’ve got hip-hop, funk nights, indie, soul nights, disco edits, post-punk, 80s, indie, electronic and alternative.

“My focus is to get the building up and running and then get the line-up. It is important to the Lock Tavern – it has an important history, but you can’t do everything all at once.”

The Lock Tavern is the second acquisition by East London Pub Co, which also owns The 10 Bells in Spitalfields and has another site in Spitalfields due to open soon. The upstairs roof terrace has been overhauled and there are plans to move onto the downstairs beer garden soon too.

“We want to put it back as a real stalwart of Camden,” added Bradley.

“We want people to think, I want to go to the Lock Tavern because it’s a nice place to be, not just because it has a big area where they can smoke.”

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