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We're backing culture with a big new editorial series

Kicking off with pubs in peril - and the people protecting them

Pub painting by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner (more info below)

👊 This week on Camdenist we bring you the first in a series of editorially-led ‘campaigns’ in support of culture.

Culture can mean many things, but for this we’re talking about the places and people that add boundless creative, social, and entertainment-based joy to our lives, yet whose worth is often chronically devalued under our late capitalist predicament.

You won’t need reminding, but it’s tough out there right now.

A perfect storm of national, organisational and household financial woes has swirled with everything from the attention vacuum of social media to post-Covid WFH trends to mean that our pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and loads more cherished institutions are really struggling.

With the current cost of living crisis, we’re not going to hector anyone about dutifully going splurging, though.

Instead, our campaigning will take the form of bringing you detailed local discovery guides, stories from the frontline, attractive deals and pro-cultural analysis; all of which can help you to invest wisely when weighing up how to make the most of life in the borough.

We’re basically railing against those soporific, sofa-based Deliveroo, Netflix and Amazon inclinations, which extract money from the local economy and do nothing for our high streets, performance venues and social spaces.

So over the coming weeks, you’ll find Camdenist firmly in the corner of culture, posing the hard questions and (hopefully) finding some answers for of how we turn the tide and save, celebrate and reinvigorate our cultural fabric in these difficult times.

🍺 Let’s start with pubs - and the moves afoot to protect our lovely locals

ACVs or Assets of Community Value, are a way for local groups to protect places that offer a valuable contribution to the local social fabric, so pubs are a popular nomination.

This week, our in-depth story looks at the work going on to register more local pubs, and the success stores that abound, despite all the doom and gloom.

From the return of the Black Cap to the mystery over the new owners of the Elephant’s Head read the full story on Camdenist today, and do share it to support the cause, too.

  • 👨‍🎨 We met artist Lewis Hazelwood-Horner, pint in hand, at a suitably rowdy great local boozer the other night. His evocative paintings of pubs (pictured at the top of the newsletter) can be bought on his website and are also on show at the RBA Annual Exhibition 2024, which is on at the Mall Galleries just by the ICA from next Thursday until 9th March.

Here’s a way you can support independent pubs and Camdenist

Subscribe to Camdenist Premium and we’ll send you £100 of independent London pub discounts via CityStack as a thank you. You’ll get special invites to our upcoming events, too, plus will be direct helping this newsletter campaign for culture, each and every Friday.


Pan Asian on Parkway + bug specials

🍥 Only a few short months ago, 103 Parkway launched as a posh sushi joint after lengthy licensing wranglings with obstructive locals. It all looked very nice, but clearly didn’t make much of an impact, since the place has already had a complete reinvention. It’s now a pan Asian brasserie known as Gharr, and while sushi is still very much part of the menu mix, there are also Nepalese curries and soups, too.

🪳 According to the guys behind week’s hottest new restaurant opening, Yumbug, insects are the future of meat-eating, and so to demonstrate how tasty they can be, they are now serving up a menu of cricket-based tacos, bao buns and burgers up in Finsbury Park.

🍕 Mornington Crescent’s vampire-themed pizzeria Lost Souls has been shut for ages following a devastating fire last year, however they are now beginning to rebuild and plan to reopen soon - you can follow the progress via their Instagram.


📊 This week’s 1-click poll

What do you think about the BT Tower being sold to a hotel group?

Find out more about that story below...

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🪑 Midcentury design is being celebrates at the Vintage Home Show at St Mary’s church in Primrose Hill on Sat (24th), bringing independent dealers in retro furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles and art to tempt you with a purchase or two.

🎪 It’s the annual Heritage Fair up at Lauderdale House on Saturday 24th (with a family day on the Sunday) offering a chance to discover the rich history of the house, and it’s surrounds of Waterlow Park and Highgate.

🧠 The new free exhibition at the Francis Crick Institute opens next week (Sat 2nd March). Hello Brain highlights the pioneering work in neuroscience that’s going on upstairs, exploring the most complex part of our body around key themes like sleep, pregnancy, old age and perception.

🎶 Hot on the heels of being awarded his own spot on the Camden Music Walk of Fame in the summer, locally-raised musical hero, Eddy Grant, is to release his seminal, multi-platinum LP Killer On The Rampage on all digital platforms for the first time ever today, 40 years after its original release.


The pick of the week’s local live gigs

Daniel Kemish

🎤 ‘Arab-futurist songstress’ Felukah brings her Egyptian sounds, from poetry to rap, singing to political activism, to Dingwalls on Sunday evening (25th) alongside President T at an event dubbed Cairo Rap X British Grime Live

🪕 Globe-trotting Brit folk troubadour Daniel Kemish (pictured) returns to plays his first UK gig in five years at the intimate Green Note this Wednesday 28th.

🎤 Long-standing UK Hip Hop icon Jehst returns to Parkway’s Jazz Cafe on Wednesday (28th) to perform tracks from his untouchable six LPs over the last 20 years.

🎷 Enjoy a night with The Reliables, who play with musical loops as the underlying building blocks for their live jazz, bringing looped influences from all over the world to Hampstead Jazz Club on Thurs 29th.


The iconic BT Tower is going to be reborn - once more

The weekly column: reflections on living, working and playing in the borough…

WEDNESDAY: It was revealed, seemingly out of the blue, that the BT Tower is being sold to a hotel group. In many ways this is rather wonderful. We all know how repurposing defunct infrastructure, such as the Victorian railway warehouses of King’s Cross, or the former Midland Bank building in the city, now plush Soho House spot The Ned, can give these structures a new lease of life. But this one, originally known as the Post Office Tower, of course, has only been in situ since the 1960s. It demonstrates the exponential march of communications technology in the years since. The microwave transmitters have long been removed, fiberoptic cable doing the job with far greater capacity these days. And the famous revolving restaurant hasn’t been open to the public since the IRA bomb of 1971, although there have been plenty of private events up there in the last 50 years. With Heatherwick Studio (of Coal Drops Yard and plenty of other glam local projects fame) in the design driving seat, it will be interesting to see how the tower changes once more. The news also uncovered some tasty facts, including:

  • The tower was the tallest building in London until the 1980s.

  • As a key part of the nation’s communications infrastructure, it was technically a state secret for years, albeit a rather overbearing landmark one. Taking or storing photos of the tower was a breach of the Official Secrets Act and it wasn’t even featured on Ordinance Survey maps until the mid 90s.

  • The revolving restaurant was originally managed by Billy Butlin, yes he of the eponymous holiday camps.

  • The hotel group who have acquired it have interesting form, also running New York’s lovingly converted TWA Terminal building as a 60s air travel themed hotel and museum. They promise that the public will once again have access to the BT tower - or whatever telephony-related moniker they choose to rename it under - when the new hotel opens…

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What do you say to the news that Kentish Town tube station won't be reopening as promised in June?

I knew it! Nothing like that ever seems to be finished on time
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 65%

Can't believe it! I've been counting down the days
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 21%

Not bothered! It's easy to swerve the tube for a bus/bike/walk
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 14%

“It's totally ridiculous, not surprising and absolutely awful for commuters and businesses. Bit of a disgrace. Most other capital cities in the world would have done the work in a month. Total rubbish”


Many of you, like Judith above, said that this was a quintessentially London kind of mess, however spare a thought for the people of Greek city Thessaloniki, who have been waiting for their Metro to be finished since 1910! Repeated archeological discoveries when tunneling, plus the Greek financial crisis, have set the project back decades, however the main line is due for completion this year. Probably. So it really isn’t just here. 😉

  • 60 mins of free Forest bike rides: Download or open the Forest app, then enter promo code CAMDENIST60 to ride for free right away. Minutes can be used for multiple trips for up to 3 months, on top of Forest’s standard 10 mins free each day too!

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