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End of an era for Camden Town’s pub scene as Quinn’s landlord dies aged 94

Pat Quinn was behind the bar at Quinn's - formerly the Duck Inn - for more than 30 years

29 January, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Pat Quinn, who passed away this week, and wife Margaret after winning a lifetime achievement award from licensees

IT is a pub of local legend, an alehouse which steadfastly retained its traditional charm while others in Camden Town were enduring gastropub makeovers.

But the buzz in Quinn’s fell silent this week with the sad news that Pat Quinn, a landlord who at one stage or another must have served half of Camden’s residents with a nightcap, has passed away aged 94.

Mr Quinn, who had been working at the pub until the last few months and was well known among regulars, took up the running of the pub on the corner of Hawley Road and Kentish Town Road in 1988.

His son Vincent said an anecdote about a holiday his father took to Los Angeles during which he stopped at the home of his favourite film idol, James Stewart, sprung to mind: Pat had marvelled that Stewart’s mansion was the only one that did not have high walls or security gates.

“He said that spoke volumes about Stewart’s character,” said Vincent.

“Stewart never had anything to be scared about and, in a way, that sums up my father, too. Dad also never needed to put up walls. He was acknowledged by all as a decent man. He was always welcoming, and it made his pub the place it was.”


Quinn’s [Pic: Jim Linwood]

Over nearly 30 years at the bar, Pat became a much-loved member of the Camden Inner London Licensee Association, known for his extensive work for the charities they supported, and his dedication to running a pub that is a landmark in the area.

Oxford Arms licensee Tom Maloney, whose family have run their Camden High Street pub since the 1960s, told the New Journal that Mr Quinn was a trailblazer.

“Patrick and his wife Margaret made Quinn’s a lovely pub. He knew running a pub was about treating people well and he influenced many others. For example, he was the first person to serve Belgium beers and was ahead of his time that way,” he said. “They were proper publicans – it is an end of an era.”

Mr Quinn was born in County Longford, Ireland, in 1922 to a farming family. He was the eldest of four, with two younger sisters and as brother. His mother passed away when he was six years old, and in his teens he moved from his home town to work as an assistant in a hospital for people with mental health issues.

It was an experience that helped shape him as a young man.

Mr Quinn came to London during the war and worked in the East End where he had contacts among Irish-born dock workers. It was the start of a career in the pub trade that would last a lifetime.

He met Margaret, who was working as a nurse, at a dance hall and they were to be married for more than 60 years.

The Quinns ran pubs in Southfields, Hammersmith, White City and The Wellington in Turnpike Lane – which he persuaded Spurs legend Pat Jennings to officially open – before taking on The Duck Inn, in Kentish Town Road, in the late 1980s.

Customers would ask him why it had such a name, which was rumoured to be because of its low ceiling. In 1992, he expanded the bar and customers suggested he call it Quinn’s.

The pub was never modelled on an Irish theme, but its ongoing success was considered influential by industry insiders in the trend of Irish-related pubs set up by big chains such as O’Neills.

Mr Quinn’s funeral is at Our Lady of Hal’s church in Arlington Road at noon on February 17.

His family say his legacy will be his pub, which will remain open as Quinn’s, and added that they wanted to thank the nursing staff at UCLH for the care they gavanted to thank the nursing staff at UCLH for the care they gave him in his final days.

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