Pride writer among stars organising to save the Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Stephen Beresford has joined calls to help protect the historic gay venue which features in his film.
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) was sold in October to an Australian company who have, as yet, not stated their future plans for the building. While Lambeth Council have afforded it special community status – meaning if it is sold again, the local community will be given the opportunity to buy it – that does not stop it from being closed or redeveloped.
It is thought to be the oldest gay venue in London, possibly even the UK. Lily Savage, Paul O’Grady’s comedy alter ego, made her name there, and it is believed Freddie Mercury once smuggled Princess Diana inside, dressed as a man.
After the sudden closure of The Black Cap in Camden this week, community groups and celebrities have rallied to ensure the same does not happen to the RVT.
The RVT Future campaign hopes to have it become a listed building with English Heritage based on its historical and cultural value to the LGBT community. However RVT Chief Executive James Lindsey said in a statement on Facebook: “The pub has struggled commercially for a number of years and the new owners continue to support me in my efforts to run a successful business.
“The English Heritage listing is not something we support, because it will reduce the flexibility that any pub needs to survive.”
Pride writer Stephen Beresford said: “The RVT is so much more than just a bar. As Pride shows, it has a special role in LGBTQ history and London life; a unique place where different communities can come together.
“The RVT has always stood out as embodying the true spirit of the LGBTQ movement and it would be a real shame if it lost touch with that heritage. I support the campaign and wish it all the best.”
Amy Lamé, who runs the popular Duckie club night at the RVT said: “This campaign is simply about getting everyone who cares about the Tavern’s future together to play a role in securing it.
“There is no reason the RVT can’t be a successful, modern and profitable bar while staying true to its traditions. We hope the new owners will now move to provide the peace of mind locals, regulars and performers desperately want.”