CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

LGBT+: ‘We won’t give up until the Black Cap reopens’

London has lost more than 50 LGBT+ venues

12 February, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Demonstrations outside The Black Cap

WHEN some pubs close down, there is a period of lament but time moves on fast and the venue is left to the local history books. Not The Black Cap in Camden High Street, Camden Town.

An astonishing campaign to see it reopened just as it was has refused to go away after six years. They will not take no for answer and vigils outside the venue continue.

It is one of 50 LGBT+ pubs and clubs that have been forced to shut in London in the past 15 years – robbing many of a safe space to go out.

Alex Green, from the campaigning Black Cap Foundation, said: “It came at a time of lots of closures. The Cap was somewhere people would gather not just to relax, to be able to be themselves without worry, but to mark occasions – birth, marriages, wakes. It has been iconic and important for decades. There are very few places where you can walk up, place your hands on the walls and say: this contains our history.”

The pub enjoys protection as an Asset of Community Value.

Owners Faucett Inn originally had hoped to redevelop the site, adding flats above the venue, but were refused planning permission. Instead, they closed the doors and have since been marketing the property.

There have businesses, including restaurant chains, who have expressed an interest.

But campaigners, backed by Camden Council and the Greater London Authority, say the pub must re-open in its previous guise. There remains hope that a community-owned company will take it on.

He said: “It reminded me of the working men’s clubs I used to go to as a child. It was a bit grimy, but full of camaraderie and fellowship. It shows the importance of safe spaces like the Cap.”

Mr Green, who runs performing arts group Loud And Queerly, has been holding weekly meetings at the Castlehaven Community Centre to bring people together who might otherwise be socialising at the Cap – known as The Cab Lab.

“Queer spaces are often seen as places for drinking and dancing and partying,” added Mr Green. “The Cab Lab allows us to just have a nice cup of tea. Since lockdown, it has been a good way to get together.”

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