Isle of Dogs' pub City Pride prepares for last orders

By Rob Virtue on March 22, 2012 12:32 PM |

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A piece of Isle of Dogs' history will be closing its doors for good on Friday.

The popular City Pride pub, serving the Island community since the 1950s, has proved to be no match for the developers and will be torn to the ground to make way for yet another tower on the east London skyline.

Last month, the venue's management was given five weeks' notice by the landowner to vacate the premises.

Pub manager James Urquhart said: "We had to say to a lot of the regulars, 'look, sit down, we've got some news for you'. We had to tell them the same way as the staff. We're all sad by it.

"But all the regulars want to stick together and they've been having long debates at the bar about where they should go."

The City Pride, in Westferry Road - on the doorstep of the estate - has been an anachronism in the age of Canary Wharf. James calls it "a chameleon" with a mix of Wharf workers and locals drinking side by side.

For many, the closure marks the end of an era.

Regular Leonard Green, who lives in Westferry, said: "The nice thing is when you walk in there is always someone here you know. It's a good mix of locals and people who work in Canary Wharf. I don't think there is anywhere else like this. This has been the hub of a community. That's now going to change."

Arnold Court, who used to live on the Island but now lives in Victoria Docks, has been coming to City Pride almost every day for 23 years.

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He said: "I deal with customers all day and it is nice to come here and be looked after. It's really friendly.

"I was introduced to this place when I was 18 by Peter Ellis who played Superintendent Brownlow in The Bill when we were part of a local amateur dramatics society and I've been coming back ever since.

"We all live and work nearby and just like to meet up here."

Since 1985 the pub has been run by Glendola Leisure, a family business that owns venues across Britain.

The company was devastated to get notice of its closure from solicitors, especially as it will close a mere two weeks before the London Marathon.

The pub was a prime spot for watching the race, allowing drinkers to see runners pass both sides on their way around the Isle of Dogs.

Glendola Leisure's operations manager Nick Salussolia said: "We've been trying to get in touch with the owners to find out what was happening but it's been hard.

"We were gearing up for the marathon and had the BBC lined up to film here for the second year running, when we got the notice through from solicitors.

"The City Pride is a traditional pub in among a mass of tall buildings.

"We've got the local community and the city people all together in a great atmosphere. It's going to be missed."

The writing was on the wall for the City Pride on April 15, 2009, when - after a 4-4 tied vote - the chairman of the Tower Hamlets Council strategic development committee used his casting vote to approve a Glenkerrin-led scheme.

However, construction stalled due to the economic downturn and last year the pub was given a further stay of execution after developer Glenkerrin went into receivership.

But in January this year the land was bought by a mystery buyer. Towards the end of February the pub received notice its lease would be terminated.

Friday sees the City Pride's last day of trading with construction believed to follow soon after.

As for the pub, there is talk of a City Pride II arriving with the new development, however, it's unlikely to have the charm and will lack the history of the current incumbent.

The City Pride has promised to go out with a bang, however, with two nights of parties. It has a late licence till 2am both Thursday and Friday.

For the latest on the City Pride development click here and here

4 Comments

Regular Punter said:

It's a shame that so little thought goes into what's left of this place by our council. They seem to be hell bent on closing pubs one way or another - any one would think they are against having a drink or enjoying alcohol.

Instead, the last great open space available to locals to come together is going to ripped down and another souless glass tower is going up in its place, but only to be enjoyed by those who can afford it.

Now we'll have to contend with even more traffic and bottlenecks. Lets turn Canary Wharf into a Bombay style slum of the future. :(

Goodbye City Pride! We'll miss you and all who drank in you.

martin said:

Great pub drank in there when steve and tracy were in charge love to no what happened them while working in Lenantons across the road always had a good time fantastic bar staff that ive never forgotton
another kick in the teath for the locals all in the name of progress or gread was a good comunity before all the security and wall went up a sad loss the marathon wont be the same neither will the hangovers truly a sad sad day

local said:

Steve now owns the Ship further down westferry road. Went to see him, was really great, even caught up with some old faces from back in the day.

local said:

Steve now owns The ship further down westferry rd, after a stint in the country lol. Went down there to see him, was great, even caught up with a few faces from the old City Pride Days. That guy knows how to run a pub.

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