A local beer campaign organisation says that at least a dozen pubs in Croydon and Sutton that closed their doors at the start of the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020 may have called “last orders” for a final time.
The Croydon and Sutton branch of CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – admits that the information that its members have compiled so far is incomplete, and they are asking for assistance from Inside Croydon’s loyal reader for more and better details about the plight of the borough’s lost locals.
According to Dave Lands, the chairman of Croydon and Sutton CAMRA, “We know that the majority of pubs have managed to reopen despite the financial pressures that many of them must be facing.”
Lands says that 85 per cent of the 152 pubs that Croydon and Sutton CAMRA has listed in the area have reopened, while 12 have definitely closed and more information is needed on a further 11 pubs.
The lifting of covid restrictions over the past three months has presented particular problems for those pubs that lack any outdoor seating space. Yet even some larger pubs with beer gardens, such as the historic Waddon Arms, on a busy junction close to the Purley Way, have remained firmly boarded up, prompting well-founded concerns about their fate.
Likewise The HG Wells in Worcester Park: a Trip Advisor review in March 2020 said it looked closed, and their Facebook page, which was inactive, has now disappeared.
Some pubs in the Antic group, whose rapid expansion had slowed noticeably even before covid came along, have suffered mixed fortunes over the past 18 months.
Antic say on their website that the Shelverdine Goathouse on the High Street in South Norwood is preparing to reopen, thoough the website has not been updated for some time.
“Without a garden area this pub couldn’t reopen in April, and the continuing requirement for table service is apparently now making reopening unviable for them. It did not re-open in 2020,” CAMRA says.
But Antic don’t appear to have given up on two of their developments: Coopers (in the former Plumbase in Westow Hill), and the new-build Norbonne and Stable in Norbury Crescent, both of which were started some time before the pandemic took hold.
Antic pubs in neighbouring boroughs (Upper Norwood and Penge) have reopened – the Penge one still under Antic management. The Shinner and Sudtone in Sutton town centre is one of those now managed by Portobello Brewing and has reopened.
Elsewhere, CAMRA’s local listings can make for grim reading.
Ye Olde Clock Tower in Whitehorse Road hasn’t reopened, and has now been boarded up. “This pub was carrying “For Sale” boards for some time, and planning permission for residential property above was granted some time ago,” Lands said.
Overproof Croydon (which used to be Arkwright’s Wheel in South Croydon before it attempted to reinvent itself as a cocktail bar) is no longer a bar (“We don’t know the reason for this,” CAMRA says).
The Forestdale Arms in Selsdon did reopen for outdoor service on April 12, but posted on Facebook on April 20 that they were closed until further notice due to ill-health.
Two other pubs which we know have not reopened are the Cock and Bull in Sutton (Fullers) and the Postal Order in Westow Street (Wetherspoon). “In both cases these appear to have been commercial decisions (with break clauses in leases) rather than solely the effects of the pandemic,” Lands said.
The Lion, Pawsons Road, and The Albert, Harrington Road, both closed at the time of the first lockdown and have not reopened since. In the case of The Albert, a busy local at the heart of the South Norwood community, the closure came despite strong protests from a residents’ campaign, with owners Greene King using the pandemic as their excuse to implement a property sales policy.
The somewhat unfortunately named Phoenix on Station Road in West Croydon has been demolished as part of a redevelopment scheme.
The Plough on the Pond at Thornton Heath has not re-opened this year and now has “To Let” sign.
The Sutton Arms has indicated that it will reopen on June 14, a week before restrictions are due to be further lifted.
Lands says that any relevant information about pubs in Croydon and Sutton, or anywhere in the country, can be submitted on www.whatpub.com or, for those in the Croydon and Sutton area, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The base information required includes any change of opening hours, facilities and the range of cask beer and cider on offer. Lands said, “I hope that the roadmap holds and pubs can reopen fully on June 21, but if not, information on other services offered by local pubs – takeaways and deliveries – is useful.
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