The Ivy House (formerly the Newlands Tavern) is London's first co-operatively owned pub, the first pub in the UK to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, and the first building to be bought under the "community right to bid" provisions of the Localism Act.
In April 2012 the pub was closed down and subsequently sold to a property developer who had drawn up plans to gut the interior and turn the entire building over to residential accommodation. You can read the full story of how a dedicated group of community volunteers prevented the destruction of the historic pub interior, raised a million pounds to buy the freehold, and re-opened the Ivy House below.
The pub was built by Truman's brewery in the 1930s. It is an example of the "Improved Public House", designed to tempt drinkers in the face of falling pub attendance in the interwar years by offering more entertainment and a family-friendly environment. The pub is now Grade-II listed as having "an unusually high level of surviving original features and fittings [forming] a largely complete 1930s interior".
During the 1970s the Ivy House was a key venue on the "Pub Rock" circuit, hosting gigs by many famous names including Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Dr Feelgood, and Jeff Beck. You can read more about the history of the pub below.
Ivy House Community Pub Limited is a Community Benefit Society, which is a kind of Industrial and Provident Society. It is a co-operative, where each member has the same vote regardless of the size of their investment.
Shortly after completing the purchase of the building, we opened a community share offer to raise money for necessary repairs and refurbishment as well as a trading reserve for the pub. Our 371 shareholders constitute the members of the Society, and the membership of the Management Committee is subject to their approval.
Long-term decision making and the financial management of the business are carried out by the five members of the Management Committee, while the day-to-day running of the pub is overseen by our Pub Manager, Graham Pearson. You can read more about the Management Committee below.
The Ivy House was was a popular local pub when its tenants were given one week's notice to quit by Enterprise Inns in April 2012. The building was boarded up and advertised for sale with vacant possession.
In the days before its closure, the pub's manager introduced a group of local residents to each other and the campaign to save the Ivy House was born. Before its closure, the Campaign For Real Ale ("CAMRA") had applied to English Heritage to have the Ivy House's beautiful wood-panelled interior protected with a Grade II listing. After a concerted lobbying effort from the community, local councillors and MP Harriet Harman, the Ivy House became Grade II listed two days before it was closed down in April 2012. For more information about the listing, click here to read Neil Pettigrew's article "Why is the Ivy House a Grade II listed building?"
Following the pub's closure, the campaign's steering group (now the management committee) got to work on a business plan and potential sources of finance to buy the building.
Shortly after the Ivy House's closure, Enterprise Inns sold the building to a property developer who had drawn up plans to rip out the pub's interior and turn the entire building over to residential accommodation.
We applied to Southwark Council to have the building listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) under the "community right to bid" provisions of the Localism Act 2011. In October 2012, the Ivy House became the first building in London (and possibly the UK) to be listed as an Asset of Community Value.
This listing meant that when the property developer who now owned the Ivy House tried to re-sell the building, we were entitled to impose a 6 month moratorium on the sale. This gave us 6 months to raise funds to put in a bid to buy the Ivy House; however, it did not give us an automatic right to buy.
We raised £1 million through a mixture of loan and grant finance. The Architectural Heritage Fund, which provides finance to help preserve historic buildings in the UK, lent us £550,000 secured over the freehold of the building. We then successfully applied for a grant of £450,000 from the Social Investment Business Group, from a government fund set up to assist projects to save Assets of Community Value.
We then negotiated with the vendor to buy the building for £810,000 plus stamp duty. Ivy House Community Pub Limited completed its purchase of the pub and the residential accommodation above it on 13 March 2013. Since then we have carried out a full refurbishment of the residential accommodation, completed repairs and safety works inside the building, installed eight new ale lines and overhauled the cellar, employed a pub manager and bar staff, and re-opened the Ivy House as a working community pub. We hope you like it!
For many years The Ivy House was called The Newlands Tavern, fleetingly becoming The Stuart Arms in the 1980s and 1990s, before receiving its current name.
For about 90 years the pub was in the hands of only two families. The 1871 census lists a Thomas Dickason - Beer House Keeper, Newlands Tavern - the first of four Dickasons to run the place. The family's association with the pub came to an end in the early 1920s when it was taken over by Edgar Rhodes. After his death in 1941, his wife Elizabeth ran the pub until 1958.
At some time during the Rhodes's tenure the pub was rebuilt. A Victorian photograph of the first tavern (right) shows a long two storey building; nevertheless brewery archives record that the pub in the 1920s was selling an impressive 800 brewer's barrels of beer per annum - over 600 pints a day! The exact date of the current building is uncertain, but may have been at the point when Edgar Rhodes's original lease with the brewery expired in 1936. The architect may have been A.E. Sewell, Truman's prolific in-house architect.
The Ivy House owes its rather lonely situation at the brow of Stuart Road's slight hill to a German V1 bomb that crashed into the adjoining row of shops, in the afternoon of July 1st 1944, killing seventeen people. All the shops were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. When the war ended the celebration party was held in the pub, the surviving physical heart of the community.
Long-standing local residents tell us that music and dance was often on the agenda throughout the 1950s and 1960s; however, it wasn't until 1972 that the Newlands really took off as a music venue, when the brewery offered a lease to Reg and Sue Fentiman, a young music-loving couple, with the proviso that use the backroom and stage in the same way that other pubs were doing in north London - this was the fledging pub-rock movement that paved the way for punk.
The Fentimans dived into their task with relish. By the time they left in 1976, the pub had played host to such notables as Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Dr Feelgood, Hugh Cornwall and Graham Parker. The latter has recently released a CD of a 1975 gig at the pub - Live at The Newlands Tavern. In 1974, before setting off for an American tour, Jeff Beck used the venue for a final warm-up performance.
As well as being a pub, the Newlands Tavern was also the Fentimans' family home. It wasn't unusual for the Fentiman kids to share their evening meal around the large kitchen table with such luminaries as Ian Dury and his fellow Kilburns, or a Feelgood or two. Sue and Reg's attitude paid off in terms of making the pub a success. Graham Parker, in a recent blog post, recalls his band's rehearsals fortified by pints of bitter that the owners "had kindly allowed us to pull from the taps".
By 1986 the main part of the pub was shut off - the only bit remaining open was the west bar (now removed). When the pub's "ballroom" and bars re-opened, proprietors began to embrace the pub's potential as a venue and community hub.
The Ivy House Management Committee consists of eight local residents whose oversee the operation of the pub business, residential accommodation, and fabric of the historic building to ensure its continued existence as local boozer, community hub, and vital asset to the neighbourhood. They are:
Co-chair: Emily Dresner. Emily is a Land Management and Conservation Lead Adviser for Natural England, providing statutory nature conservation advice to landowners and site managers, and supporting a wide range of biodiversity projects. Previously, Emily worked as a fund manager for a leading pensions and ISAs company. She is a trustee of Jalia, a grassroots charity which supports education for disadvantaged children in Kenya.
Co-chair: Tessa Blunden. Tessa Blunden is a solicitor. She is currently a Senior Editor at Practical Law (part of Thomson Reuters) and an associate lecturer in law at the Open University. Previously, Tessa worked for 7 years at City firm Travers Smith LLP, dealing with a wide range of commercial litigation and specialising in real estate litigation. Tessa negotiated and completed the original purchase of the building, and has written and spoken widely about the campaign to save the Ivy House and the challenges of establishing and running London's first co-operative pub, including for the Guardian's Social Enterprise Network, the DCLG, Locality, and the Greater London Assembly's Pubs Protection Summit. She's also a founder of Little Village Southwark, which is based at the Ivy House.
Financial director: Colin Buck. Colin qualified as an accountant and now works in project management for professional services firms who are changing their systems or business processes. He was a governor of Ivydale Primary School for eight years and has been treasurer for several not-for-profit entities, guiding one of them to obtain charitable status. Earlier incarnations include retail management, auditing and management accountancy.
Secretary: Matt Soper. Matt is a Digital Content Producer who has worked for broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky as well as for consumer brands including Havana Club, Selfridges and Smeg. He creates content strategies for clients while also producing social media content to increase brand awareness among target audiences. Matt is also a contributor to the Peckham Planning Network.
Stuart Taylor. Stuart is a qualified town planner and landscape architect working for English Heritage, providing advice on the alteration and restoration of historic landscapes. In his previous role as a historic buildings adviser Stuart provided advice on regeneration and the sensitive development and reuse of historic buildings. He is a committee member of the Peckham Society, participates in the Southwark Conservation Area Advisory Group, and is one of the trustees of a Building Preservation Society in Sheerness, Kent.
Geoff Cudd. Geoff is a retired businessman who has run his own winebar and video rental shop. As a local resident he is keen for The Ivy House to thrive and and be used by many different members of the community. He has been a customer of The Ivy House for about 30 years.
Howard Peacock. Howard is a teacher, guitarist, and occasional home brewer; he plays in the house band for the pub's monthly Live Band Karaoke night. He also holds a PhD in philosophy and publishes regularly in academic journals which very few people read. Howard is also responsible for maintaining this website. He built the pub's sound engineer booth, of which he is inordinately proud.