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Campaign to save The Temple Bar – a popular London Irish pub under threat from developers

The Temple Bar in central London. Picture via Adam Connon
The Temple Bar in central London. Picture via Adam Connon

A CAMPAIGN is underway to save an Irish pub in central London that is under threat from developers. 

The Temple Bar pub on Milford Lane on London’s Strand has proven to be a popular spot for after-work drinks, as well as a regular haunt for Munster rugby fans.

Off-shore development company Franklintree Property (Strand) Ltd have lodged a bid with Westminster Council to build luxury flats on the site.

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Documents viewed by The Irish Post revealed plans that would see the pub’s basement lowered and the function room replaced by flats – drastically reducing the size and viability of the premises.

The pub, owned by Kermans and Co. solicitor Daniel O’Connell and his business party Andy Kerman, could see six people lose their jobs if the development goes ahead.

Staff and customers are now fighting back. They have taken their grievances to Westminster Council, where they have the right to object to the plans for the bar before the date for plans to go to the committee is finalised.

“More flats that I can’t afford are to be built in one the last remaining pubs in central London. I would urge you to refuse planning permission as the heart of London of losing its soul and is being pushed to the outskirts,” wrote one customer called John.

Another man who will lose both a home and a job if the plans go ahead is bar manager Dave Smith, 49, known as Murphy.

During the week, the Drogheda native lives alone in the flat above the pub; while he travels more than 80 miles each way every weekend to see his family.

“I love managing this pub and feel that we have made a real difference to the Temple area and as a hub for the Irish in London,” he told The Irish Post.

“As you can imagine, Irish events can run late and so I simply couldn’t manage the pub if I had to commute back to Kettering after midnight, with the price of housing in London, I couldn’t afford to live close enough, which is ironic as the landlord wants to make our pub fancy, plush apartments.”

The pub is a popular and busy spot for workers in the Strand area of London. Picture via Adam Connon
The pub is a popular and busy spot for workers in the Strand area of London. Picture via Adam Connon

Because the developers now own the freehold to the pub, owners Daniel O’Connell and Andy Kerman may have the rug pulled out from under if plan to build flats on the site go ahead – drastically reducing the size of the existing pub.

Mr O’Connell took the reins of The Temple Bar in 2013, and with help from his nephew Adam Connon, says they have worked hard to make the bar a success.

“We’re solicitors and our offices are nearly next door to the pub,” Kermans solicitor Mr Connon explained.

“My uncle loved it but it was very badly run. It had no Irish connections until he took it over but he decided to do that.”

Having taken over the lease on the pub under a freehold from Trust Inns Ltd, the new owners reinvented the pub and established it as a popular spot for city workers and Irish people alike.

Popular bar manager Dave Smith (second from right) with customers outside the bar. Picture via Adam Connon
Popular bar manager Dave Smith (second from right) with customers outside the bar. Picture via Adam Connon

Today The Temple Bar, aside from being a popular venue for those working in the Strand area of London, is also a regular hotspot for Irish groups, including a Munster Rugby Supporters Club and the St Patrick’s Society social club, who meet in the bar quarterly.

“We are hopeful that Westminster Council will see sense, reject this application and stop another great pub from closing,” Mr Connon said.

The Temple Bar is not the first Irish pub to come under threat from property developers.

In 2014, Sheila Gavigan won her fight to keep her Somers Town pub, The Cock Tavern, open – while last year saw the Irish community in Kilburn, north London, coming out and protesting over the bulldozing of a much-loved 90-year-old pub.

If plans for The Temple Bar go ahead, the existing cellar and function room would no longer be available to the pub’s new owners – in their place would be the new flats.

This means the pub would no longer be able to host events, which Mr Connon said is the business’ “money maker”.

Westminster Council confirmed that the developer’s application was given the green light to go to committee stage where any objections will be then considered before a final decision is made.

So far, 43 online objections, along with 41 letters, have been submitted.

Despite several attempts to contact Franklintree Property via their agent, Montagu-Evans, The Irish Post was unable to speak to a company representative for a comment.

Follow The Temple Bar’s campaign to save their pub on Facebook

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James Mulhall
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James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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