You might remember that last September, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern became the UK’s first LGBTQ listed building. Yay! Except now there are renewed fears that the property developers who own the site are trying to flog it off and it might turn into a chain pub. Boo! But RVT Future, the campaign to defend the Tavern, has a plan to keep it safe, and you can help. Yay again!
For the uninitiated, the RVT is thought to be the country’s oldest LGBTQ pub and performance venue. It has a history of queer culture and community dating back to the 1950s if not earlier. It was at the forefront of the 1960s drag boom, it’s where Lily Savage cut her teeth, and it’s been Duckie’s home since 1995. They shot some of the new Ab Fab movie there. And let’s not forget the time Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett took Princess Di out on the lash there dragged up as a boy.
The pub made history by becoming a Grade II-listed building last year – but that protects the fabric of the building, not its use. Eventually, RVT Future wants to bring it into community ownership but for now owners Immovate aren’t playing ball.
So what’s RVT Future’s plan? They want Lambeth Council to give the Tavern a special status called ‘sui generis’ (‘its own thing’), which would designate it an LGBT performance space regardless of who owns it. To convince the council, they need evidence that the pub has been used for shows for at least ten years.
And that’s where you come in! Have you been to a performance event at the Tavern? Got pics, or flyers, or ticket receipts? Or are you a performer or promoter who’s been involved in a show there and you’ve got emails, contracts, press releases, photos or videos from the event? Maybe you’ve got some old press listings or articles in a box somewhere…
Basically, if you’ve got anything that proves a show happened at the RVT, and you can put a date to it (through written evidence or your own testimony), then you could help keep the RVT safe and keep London rocking.
Here’s the deets: email your evidence, along with an explanation of your involvement with the RVT, to Rowena Folkes at Lambeth Council at RFolkes@lambeth.gov.uk by noon on Friday July 1. Make sure to include the case number, 16/02418/LDCE, and to cc email@example.com. It’s a public consultation process so anything you send will be in the public domain.