The much-loved Nag’s Head pub in Camberwell will stay open for business, after a property firm made the surprise decision to let its manager sign a new lease.
There was months of speculation that the old boozer in Camberwell Road was under threat, and manager Julie Clifford had previously said St George’s Day would be its curtain call.
The freeholder, Landlord Camberwell Road Ltd, previously said they would like the property to carry on being a public house, but will begin offering her “market rent”.
But many saw the company’s decision to double Julie’s rent as an attempt to force the Nag’s Head out close and ready the building for redevelopment.
Julie said she “couldn’t believe it” when the landlord then agreed to let her sign the £75,000-per-year deal.
“I just couldn’t see what I was going to do without this pub,” Julie said.
“It’s meant we had to put the beer up by 50p per pint, but it’s still under £4. I also have to pay £9,000 stamp duty. Everyone has been very supportive about putting the prices up and everyone is happy. It’s all good news.
“I was surprised the landlord agreed to this. My solicitor told me I shouldn’t get my hopes up when I asked if it the deal was still on the table. But there’s a couple of things on the contract: if I stay here more than five years I will have to pay for any maintenance and repairs to the building myself. And I couldn’t afford to do that.”
“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind. I had been stressed and worried, but it’s done now,” Julie added.
An online petition calling on help from Camberwell Peckham MP Harriet Harman to help defend the pub, believed to be some 160 years old, had also attracted 1,633 signatures.
Kay Guidera, who made the petition, previously told the News: “This pub is one of the last originals in the area, as well as being part of our history and heritage.
“It’s a vital link for the people of Camberwell to congregate, particularly the elderly who perhaps don’t have any family close by and this is their only link with the outside world.”
Julie’s time looking after the Nag’s Head had been typified by locals’ good will. Her first beer order in 2010 was paid for by locals who chipped in to raise £1,600.
“That was how we started,” said Julie, “and we just went from strength to strength. The pub still does great businesses”