A historic London pub that was illegally knocked down by an Israeli development company two days before it was set to be declared a heritage site will reopen Monday, six years after the city council ordered it rebuilt “brick-by-brick.”
The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, West London, was the only building on its block to survive the Nazi blitz in World War II, and will be one of the thousands of pubs across Britain that will open their doors Monday as the country lifts some coronavirus restrictions.
The Carlton Tavern was demolished without permission in 2015 by an Israeli-owned development firm CTLX LTD, which intended to build an apartment block on the site.
The demolition of the historic pub — first built in the 1860’s, destroyed in World War I by a German Zeppelin bomb, and then rebuilt in the 1920’s — sparked an outcry and a petition to the local council.
The demolition happened just two days before Historic England was due to recommend the pub be granted Grade-II listed status.
The Westminster City Council told CTLX to rebuild the pub “brick by brick.” The company refused and appealed, but local authorities upheld the order.
CLTX is a relatively unknown company with only one listed director, Tel Aviv lawyer Ori Calif, according to the Ha’aretz daily.
The reopening was delayed by several successive coronavirus lockdowns. The new owners had initially planned to reopen in May, but when the British government announced that pubs could open on April 12, they rushed to get ready.
“Since it’s been announced, it’s gone absolutely crazy. We are fully booked for the next two weeks and our website isn’t even up yet,” Tom Rees told the Daily Mail.
“We’re going to have to sacrifice a few things like some furniture inside that we were hoping to have ready for the opening which will hopefully be completed when we can get customers indoors,” he said.
Parts of the new bar, fireplace and bannister have been reclaimed from the rubble of the pub, which gives it “character and charm,” he told the paper.
Rees added: ‘It’s a really good commercial opportunity. We love this romantic idea of bringing this pub back. There are not that many great local pubs here that you want to sit and have a really great Sunday roast.
Along with reopening pubs, millions of people in Britain will get their first chance in months for haircuts, casual shopping and restaurant meals on Monday, as the government takes the next step on its lockdown-lifting road map.
Nationwide restrictions have been in place in England since early January, and similar rules in the other parts of the UK, to suppress a surge in coronavirus infections that swept the country late last year, linked to a more transmissible new variant first identified in southeast England.
Britain has had Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths.
Infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all fallen thanks to the lockdown, and a mass vaccination program that has given at least one dose to more than 60% of the adult population.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson and epidemiologists have urged caution, saying that many people remain unvaccinated and relaxing social distancing rules or allowing foreign holidays this summer could bring a new spike in infections.
“The situation in the UK is becoming clear and is stabilizing, but people have to remember that’s not the case elsewhere,” said Peter Horby, who chairs the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Threats Advisory Group. “The pandemic is still raging globally.
“And many countries in Europe even are still seeing racing case numbers or having to reintroduce lockdowns. So it’s very hard to predict what will happen in the next couple of months,” he told Times Radio.
On Monday, nonessential shops will be allowed to reopen, along with hair salons, gyms and outdoor service at pubs and restaurants.
The prime minister had promised to visit a pub for a pint to mark the occasion, but postponed the celebratory drink after the death of Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, on Friday.
Indoor drinking and dining won’t be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, and theaters, cinemas, nightclubs and most other venues remain closed, while indoor socializing is tightly restricted and foreign holidays remain banned.
The easing is good news for retail and hospitality businesses, which have endured several stretches of lockdown over the past year. But it’s a long way from business as usual; the British Beer and Pub Association estimates that just 40% of pubs in England have the space to reopen for outdoor service.
The rules apply in England. The other parts of the United Kingdom — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are following their own, broadly similar plans.