Historic pub’s battle for al fresco pint
Community backs Ship Tavern over outdoor seating
Friday, 5th November 2021 — By Harry Taylor
Ross Evans outside the historic Ship Tavern
THE publican of a Tudor-era pub has had the community rally to his side, after an order to remove tables and chairs from outside his pub.
Ross Evans, who has had the Ship Tavern in Gate Street, Holborn, in his family for 25 years, was given permission to take over a cramped alleyway and put up tables and chairs outside when the pub reopened after Covid-19 last year.
The extra al fresco seating was a godsend during a period where people have been wary about drinking indoors because of a fear about contracting the virus.
But after Mr Evans missed a deadline to renew the licence, amid the arrival of 12-week-old daughter Caila, officials told him the outdoor facilities had to go.
“People have been angry with us because they thought we had taken it away ourselves,” he told the Extra. “They’ve said to us ‘We want to sit outside for our safety, we don’t want to be inside’ because they’re worried with people talking about Covid cases and ‘plan B’. But we were told on Monday we would be threatened with a fine if we kept them.”
The pub is in a side street, a stone’s-throw away from Holborn station, and was bustling with office workers at lunchtime this week.
It has been on the same site since the reign of Edward VI, and was there to cater to workers on the nearby grazing meadows of Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
It has been run independently by his family for most of the last three decades. Before, the Evans family ran the Cock Tavern in Great Portland Street and the Wheatsheaf in Charlotte Street.
The 45-year-old added that the chairs and tables had helped cut down on anti-social behaviour in the alleyways nearby, although it is understood some neighbours have complained about noise, a problem staff dispute.
Temporary outside seating was rolled out by councils across London during the pandemic to encourage people to eat and drink outside to cut down the risk of Covid transmission. For periods it was the only way to use hospitality venues.
While the pub has had “good days” since workers returned to offices nearby, the publican says it’s still some way off being back the way it was before the pandemic.
“It’s a bit hit and miss. We’ve had so much support from people who live nearby or drink in here, so hopefully that will see us through and get the licence renewed,” he said.
“It will be helpful to get it back. It’s like having an extra room for us. It’s so important for us as a family business after what’s happened over the last year.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said a consultation closed on Tuesday and officers were due to make a decision as the Extra went to press.