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Magdala pub has not re-opened because of ‘undesirable’ function room

Camden Council asked to approve plans for a private flat above famous Hampstead bar

17 January, 2019 — By Tom Foot

ONE of Camden’s most famous pubs – shut for more than four years – can only reopen if the upstairs function room is converted into a private flat, its owners have claimed.

Despite “a full marketing campaign” with “a view to reopening”, the Magdala Tavern has not sold because of the “undesirable” room upstairs, according to planning papers filed at the Town Hall.

Property firm Mulberry One Capital is hoping to win consent to make changes at the pub in South Hill Park – famously the spot where Ruth Ellis shot her lover before becoming the last woman to be hanged in the UK.

It shut after 160 years of trading in September 2014.

Neil Titley, from Friends of Magdala Tavern group, said the function room had been part of the fabric of South End Green. “

We had a comedy club up there,” he said. “That was weekly and very well attended. There were shows, various plays. I did a show about Ruth Ellis, many others as well. “There were a lot of committees – it was there for parties, funeral wakes. It was partly what the Magdala was. It was part of the fabric of South End Green.”

Ruth Ellis

Reflecting on the closure, Mr Titley said: “It has split up the South End Green community. Pub life, it’s a delicate construct. If you pull it out, you can’t replace it.”

Brian Kettell, a member of South End Green Association for more than 20 years, added: “The Mag was a much loved pub for so many in the community and it has been sorely missed.”

Four “credible offers” had been made from “established operators” – including the McGrath family, who run the King William IV, in Hampstead, and Old Eagle, in Camden Town, but only for the ground floor and basement, according to the planning application.

It includes a report from estate agent Davis Coffers Lyons to the Magdala’s owner, Ori Calif, outlining why the property had not sold .

The application said: “The marketing report submitted with this application demonstrates that a major reason for the Magdala not being sold is the presence of the first-floor function room.”

The sale of a two-bed flat – opposite Hampstead Heath overground station in one of London’s most sought-after areas – would raise funds to modernise the kitchen and bin area and “ensure the Magdala has maximum desirability on the open market”.

The council would have to agree to amend the terms of an asset of community value (ACV) listing, put in place after the pub closed.

Mr Calif is sole director of company CTLX, which last year was ordered by Westminster Council to rebuild the Carlton Tavern pub in south Kilburn. It was demolished without planning permission.

The application confirms that “there is no intention to remove the Magdala Tavern” and that the proposal to reopen it without a function room is “very much supported by local residents”.

Mr Calif did not respond to a request for comment.

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