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New-look Compton is straight outta Highbury!

Hip-hop star and writer Orwell to feature at pub that neighbours feared would become flats

20 July, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Nick Stephens inside the Compton Arms, which is currently being refurbished

A HIP-HOP artist and George Orwell make an unlikely combination behind the rebranding of a much-loved pub.

Residents living near The Compton Arms in Highbury were dismayed when their local was put up for sale last November and feared it would be turned into flats.

The pub, just off Compton Terrace, was one of the inspirations behind George Orwell’s depiction of his ideal watering hole in his 1946 essay The Moon Under Water.

Self-confessed “pub man” Nick Stephens, 39, has been drafted in to manage the venue where his mother used to drink.

“She told me not to ef it up. It’s a legendary old pub and I am very aware of the fact that we are custodians,” he said.

The pub is currently undergoing a four-week refurbishment and is expected to open by the first Arsenal match of the new season when the Gunners face Manchester City on August 12.

Mr Stephens has come up with new branding for his pub and will scrap the current crest which was brought in by the Greene King pub chain who ­previously owned the freehold.

George Orwell and Snoop Dogg

“My grandad was a huge cricket fan and loved Denis Compton who played football for Arsenal and cricket for Middlesex,” he said. The swords from the Middlesex crest and the cannons from the Arsenal logo features in his design.

The other “Compton” reference in the new crest comes from hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg, whose life story was featured in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton. His song Gin and Juice also features in the film and is reflected in the juniper berries in the crest – a key ingredient of gin.

In a nod to Orwell, the crest also features an illustration of a moon under water.

“I’m looking to get a heritage plaque. I’ve really thought about this pub – it screams heritage but I want to bring a bit of youth. I don’t the pub to become a museum,” said Mr Stephens.

One of Orwell’s core principles for his vision of a successful pub was that it was quiet enough to talk with no radio, but Mr Stephens says he will play background music.

But, abiding to Orwell’s vision, he said he would hire the best people to work behind the bar to get to know the customers.

“I’ll be working behind the bar most of the time. We have taken the time to know what the previous regulars want and our neighbours have been supportive lending us things,” he said. He added that he would not be drastically changing the interior and would preserve the historic oak bar. All the cask ales will be below £5, he promised.

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