Another week, another Croydon pub comes under threat.
This time, it’s the Albert Tavern on Harrington Road, close to South Norwood Country Park, whose owners want to flog it off to the highest bidder, with the real risk that developers might turn the somewhat prosaic 1960s-built pub building into lucrative flats.
Putting themselves in the way of the property developers’ bulldozers are members of the South Norwood Tourist Board, who have swiftly devised a plan to block brewers Greene King from closing their pub and cashing in on its short-term development potential.
“Everyone knows about the Queen Vic pub on EastEnders,” a Tourist Board member said today. “Well, the Albert is as important to our ‘SouthEnders’ community of Londoners as the Queen Vic is to the TV series.
“Imagine the uproar and anger there might be if anyone suggested demolishing the Queen Vic. The threat of the sale of our Albert is getting the same response here in South Norwood.”
The Tourist Board, most of whose members are regulars in the pub, argue that the Albert is the hub of their community, and they are urgently seeking ACV status – Asset of Community Value – for the boozer, a process that has been used with success to prevent the demolition of The Glamorgan on Cherry Orchard Road.
The site of the Albert, in among a ladder of residential streets, has been home to a pub for more than 150 years.
The first Albert Tavern was built in Victorian times and served the community until it was hit by a Doodlebug German flying bomb in the Second World War.
The new Albert was built on the ruins. Several of the regular punters have members of their families who suffered in the bomb blast and lost their lives.
The Albert might be in a relatively modern building, but inside the management and staff have maintained an unpretentious, old-school, traditional London pub ethos. And to be fair, the Greene King beer’s pretty drinkable, too.
The Albert serves affordable good food and an affordable selection of beers and wines, hence its popularity with all the locals, especially families and older people who can order from a special pensioners’ menu all day, every day. During the week it hosts a quiz night, bingo, poker club and big TV screens show all the big sports events. At the weekends there is karaoke, discos, meat raffles and seasonal events throughout the year. The pub is part of the community, and has also served as a drop-off point for collections for homeless charity Nightwatch and the South Norwood Community Kitchen.
SNTB got together at the weekend to put in their ACV application to ensure the Albert continues to trade as a public house. It can take up to eight weeks for a decision from Croydon Council on ACV status. If granted, it means that Greene King would have to sell to a community trust which would maintain the Albert as a pub – something likely to significantly affect the sale price that the pub company might achieve.
And while Greene King have said that the Albert will continue to operate as a pub, the threat is very real, though: the boozer’s Facebook events page only runs through to the end of this month.
In the meantime, there is an online petition available requesting the pub remains as a pub, and a paper copy of the petition is also being circulated by the regulars at the Albert.
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