Former landlady Margaret Lynskey outside the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town before the bar was sold
Published: 6 February, 2013
By DAN CARRIER
THE legendary Bull and Gate pub's music venue in Kentish Town is set to be converted into a restaurant area after being bought by a brewery chain.
The pub in Highgate Road has provided a platform for more than three decades for some of the biggest names in the British music industry.
Bands who have stomped across its beer stained stage include The Fall, the Sex Pistols, Blur and Coldplay, but its long term landlords Pat and Margaret Lynskey have been looking for a buyer for some time as they wish to retire.
Now the Youngs brewery have bought the lease – and plan to close for refurbishment from May until the early summer. Music promoters said they had been told the venue's back room would then no longer operate as a live music venue and would instead be used as a restaurant and kitchens.
Andy MacLeod of music promoters Club Fandango, who manage the music area, says he has been told the venue will be no more from May 4.
He said: “It is incredibly sad – it was one of the last proper venues of its type. It had a great PA system, great views of the stage, lots of history and a lovely room to drink in, too. What is not to like about it?”
He added that the loss of the Bull and Gate was a nail in the coffin of Kentish Town's long tradition of providing rock and roll pubs. He said: “The irony is that having weathered the storm of free gigs and the hipsters swinging out of East London, having battled through five years of recession and having fought against the tide of depression rolling over the guitar-gripping side of the music industry throughout this decade, the venue is going to be taken down by a gastropub.”
The pub was given a Grade-II listing five years ago after a campaign by people living nearby who feared it could be closed and sold for homes.
Mr MacLeod added: “The bands we know about who played here run from Blur to Bloc Party, from Mega City 4 to the Manic Street Preachers, from Carter USM to Keane and - of course - Bum Gravy to Scrotum Clamp. The Bull and Gate has nailed its frequently dayglo colours to the leftfield mast.”
He added that regulars were often inspired to take up jobs in the music industry themselves: “Just as important as the bands were the punters. At its very best the Bull & Gate was a meeting point for the fraggle rockers, the indie shysters, the gothic dreamers, the pop-starship troopers. Now the music industry is littered with those dreamers as they grew up to become record company bosses, radio DJs, live agents, press officers, journalists and, of course, gig promoters.”
Camden Labour councillor Jonathan Simpson, the council's live music czar, said: "It's depressing that one of Camden's long established legendary music venues is calling it a day. The Bull and Gate has seen so much talent go through its doors over the years that it has become famous throughout the UK. Camden council is helping promote our live music venues but ultimately venues can't survive unless people go out and enjoy what they have to offer. I hope all music lovers in the Borough and London will celebrate this wonderful venue before it closes and make a conscious decision to support live music across our borough more often."
A spokesperson for Young's said: "We will be installing a kitchen and dining room but, as with all Young’s pubs, food will only be part of the offering; we remain fully committed to keeping the Bull and Gate as a pub first and foremost with an extensive array of cask ales, craft beers, bitters, lagers and wines.