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Compton Arms
Photograph: Greg Holland / www.gregcholland.com

One of the best pubs in the UK could soon be forced to shut

The Compton Arms is a piece of London history – and it needs your help

Written by
Lucas Oakeley
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In George Orwell’s 1946 essay, ‘The Moon Under Water’, he goes to great lengths to describe the perfect pub. According to Orwell, the ideal watering hole is a place where it is ‘always quiet enough to talk’, the staff ‘know most of their customers by name’ and ‘you can get a good, solid lunch’. Although The Moon Under Water he writes about is entirely fictional, good old George was inspired by a real pub in the London borough of Islington that he was a regular patron of.

That perfect pub is The Compton Arms. And it’s a pub that desperately needs your help right now. The Compton Arms – which we just happened to name the second best pub in the UK – is currently being taken to ‘licence review’ by four nearby households. The four have alleged that it is a public nuisance, a danger to health, poorly run and that those in charge have no interest in communicating with them.

If you think that this is simply a local dispute that has no wider significance to anyone who doesn’t live in the postcode, think again. The Compton Arms, tucked down a lovely backstreet of Highbury, has provided the local area with a safe place to sup pints since the 1800s. Pubs are a part of the fabric of any city’s social life and The Compton Arms was around long before those households moved in. It is, quite literally, a piece of history. Asking for its licence to be removed because you don’t like the fact it’s a pub would be like moving next to a football ground and complaining about the crowds at the weekend. Many London venues have fallen foul of the complaints of local residents and it sets a dangerous precedent for any building that’s not a shiny new build or identikit office block.

Every voice of support counts as the pub’s current operator heads into the forthcoming hearing. So, if you’ve had a great time at The Compton Arms and would like to provide an opposing opinion to the allegations, fire over an email by next Tuesday August 23 including your name and address to:

Licensing@islington.gov.uk

Ref 220023934

Should the four households succeed in their requests, this pub will no longer be financially viable for the current operator – or any other responsible operator for that matter. And a vital piece of London’s history – not to mention the blueprint for the perfect pub – will be lost for ever.

ICYMI: these are the 22 best pubs in the UK according to us.

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