CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Rival bids to buy Black Cap pub as famous venue is put up for sale

Famous LGBTQ+ pub in Camden High Street put on market

21 November, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

THE Black Cap could be reopened by a community-owned business after its controversial owners announced the famous LGBT venue is set to be sold to a mystery buyer.

The news that the Camden High Street cabaret bar and pub – which closed nearly five years ago – is about to change hands has sparked a bid by campaign group We Are The Black Cap to raise the money to buy it.

They would run it as a not-for-profit venture.

The group has been calling on owners Kicking Horse to either reopen the Cap or sell it. And it looks like the first steps could now be made to having the venue back open and serving the gay community which made the pub home for more than 60 years.

Kicking Horse told the Town Hall on October 31 that they intend to sell, triggering an “interim moratorium period” of six weeks, during which a community group can register their interest as a potential buyer.

If the council receive this, it then starts a six-month moratorium for the group to raise funds. If no group say they want to take on the pub, the owners can simply sell the Black Cap to a bidder of their choice.

The venue was closed by Faucet Inn in 2015 after they failed in a bid to build flats on upper floors.

They went into administration late last year due to a tax bill and the Cap is owned by parent company Kicking Horse, which was not affected by Faucet’s liquidation.

Previously, Kicking Horse had lined up buyers that included chain restaurant The Breakfast Club but the venue has been given protected status under planning law, recognising its six-decade history as a premier LGBT pub with a rich history of cabaret and drag performance. We Are The Black Cap have kept up a weekly vigil outside the closed building.

Jamie Johnston, a member of the group, told the New Journal they were now looking at raising funds to bankroll a community-owned venture.

He said: “We intend to put together a bid. We had already started exploring this before it was officially put on the market and considered how we could buy it. We are open to working with anyone who shares our aims.”

He said that after five years of campaigning the group were as determined as ever to have their pub open.

They have had it independently valued at £1.9million, though it is believed the price being sought by Kicking Horse could be as much as £3m.

Mr Johnston added: “This is great, in so far as we have always said this will never become luxury flats, or a café, or a burger joint – it will always be the Black Cap and we will not allow anything else. It looks like, after all this time, the owners have realised it will be impossible to do anything with the site except run it as the Cap. We have said to them consistently, if they do not want to run it, then give it to someone who does. Perhaps now they are listening.”

Mr Johnston said any other potential owner should be aware of the battles over the pub’s future and that they should be wary of buying the property if they do not intend to reopen it as a gay venue. He said: “Selling it to a bidder who will not reopen it as the Black Cap has not worked so far and will not work in the future. It should be clear to anyone who buys it for any other reason except to open it as the Black Cap, it will not happen.

He added: “We will fight on and they will be in the same position as Kicking Horse have been. The only outcome that makes sense is to sell the pub as the Black Cap and get it reopened as quickly as possible.”

Kicking Horse director Steve Cox did not respond to New Journal requests for comment.

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