Historic London Pub Was Illegally Demolished — 6 Years Later It's About to Reopen
The Carlton Tavern is a pub in Kilburn, London that was demolished in 2015 by Tel Aviv-based developer CLTX, which had failed to obtain the necessary planning permission. The council subsequently ordered the pub to be rebuilt brick by brick. It reopened on 12 April 2021. The pub was the only building in the street to survive the Blitz during World War II.
Nearly six years ago, Patsy Lord, then manager of the Carlton Pub in London’s Maida Vale, left the pub on Easter Monday afternoon because the owners at the time said they had to take an inventory. Two days later, when she returned to work, she discovered a pile of bricks and broken glass at the location of the building.
An overzealous property developer—whose application to turn the Carlton into luxury apartments had already been denied—demolished the entire thing instead.
The Carlton Tavern stood on Carlton Vale, just north of Paddington Recreation Ground, and just to the south of St. Augustine’s church. It was built in 1920–21 for Charrington Brewery to a design by the architect Frank J. Potter. It replaced an earlier pub on the same site that was destroyed by a German bomb from the major Gotha Raids air raid of 19/20 May 1918.
The building was noted for its unaltered 1920s interiors and faience tiled exterior. It was the only building in the street to survive the Blitz during World War II. It was owned by Punch Taverns until at least June 2008, when Punch was unsuccessful in its application to have opening hours extended “until the early hours of the morning”.
A spokesman for Historic England said “The site was remarkably well-preserved externally and internally. It displayed the hierarchy of rooms in their fixtures, fittings and decorative treatment and retained all its external signage. Few pubs were built at this date and fewer survive unaltered”.
Carlton Tavern Demolition
The building was being considered by Historic England for Grade II listing when it was unexpectedly demolished on 8 April 2015 by its owner, Tel Aviv-based Israeli property developer CLTX Limited, to make way for a block of flats above a new pub. The manager was told by the owner on Easter Monday to close the pub for an “inventory”, but when she returned two days later she found the building had been demolished. According to Haaretz, CLTX is “a relatively unknown company with only one listed director – Tel Aviv lawyer Ori Calif”.
English Heritage had surveyed the pub, making records of the layout, tiles and other original details so that full architectural information was available. Listing as a Grade II building was going to be announced a few days after its unexpected destruction.
Carlton Tavern Rebuilding
On 5 May 2015, Westminster City Council issued an “unprecedented” enforcement notice ordering CLTX to “recreate in facsimile the building as it stood immediately prior to its demolition”. The notice prevented CLTX from selling the site until the pub had been rebuilt. The London Evening Standard reported that CLTX would have to rebuild the pub “brick by brick”.
CLTX was ordered to rebuild the pub within 18 months from the date it was demolished, 8 April 2015. Councillor Jan Prendergast called the demolition “the lawless destruction of Westminster’s heritage”. Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader, said “Westminster is home to the West End – not the Wild West”.
CLTX appealed against both the refusal of planning permission for its proposed replacement flats (with ground floor bar) and the order to rebuild the pub “brick by brick”. A public inquiry held by the Planning Inspectorate sat to consider both appeals in May 2016. It rejected both appeals, but extended the time allowed for rebuilding to 24 months.
In October 2016, it was reported that CLTX had met with Westminster City Council to discuss rebuilding the pub. In March 2017, surveys of the site were being carried out, and notices on the pub announced that the rebuilding process had commenced.
In October 2017, CLTX submitted a further planning application to include three flats within the pub when rebuilt. This was declined, as it was considered to go against the decision of the planning inquiry. It was also noted that CLTX had restructured and no longer had any UK-based directors.
Ori Calif was appointed director of CLTX for a second time on 22 May 2018.
By April 2019, most of the pub’s missing exterior had been rebuilt. In late February 2020, the pub had still not reopened, and Westminster City Council was once again considering taking action against its owners.
On 19 January 2021, CLTX changed its name by resolution to Carlton Vale Ltd. On 12 April 2021, the pub finally reopened with the lifting of COVID restrictions.