IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

The Tavern’s back! Landmark Archway pub is set to reopen

Five years after closure, treasured local to welcome punters again following pleas from residents and councillors

19 April, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Sokol Toska in Navigator Square, outside the Archway Tavern with his son James

THE Archway Tavern will open its doors once more, the Tribune can reveal.

The treasured pub in the newly pedestrianised area outside Archway tube station has stood empty for five years despite pleas from locals and councillors who have fought to put it back in business.

The pub, built in the middle of the 19th century, is an important landmark for the borough and was once a social hub for members of the Irish community. Now, Sokol Toska, who previously managed the bar and nightclub to the back of the building, has said he has been asked to run the downstairs pub. He expects it to be open on May 18.

The 34-year-old said: “It needs some refurbishment and dusting up but it will be ready in just a few weeks.

“I don’t know if I can pull the Irish back but I’ll try. I am concentrating on tidying up, doing up the safety.

“The pub is going to be for drinking, with no loud music, so people can chill and drink. Keeping the pub closed just doesn’t work.”

Mr Toska was a DJ at the Tavern back in 2001, playing hits from the 1970s and 80s and remembers the days when “Sunday was the most popular night at this place”.

He previously managed the Tavern in the early 2000s and currently runs a Nightclub Kolis in Kentish Town Road.

Mr Toska, who lives in Watford, said he is planning to move above the pub once it opens.

“There’s going to be good beers in the pub and there definitely will be a big selection of lagers. It will not be too expensive,” he added.

Dr Imtiaz Sardar, the long-term leaseholder of the pub, submitted plans to convert a large chunk of the building into a children’s nursery in August, last year.

But the plans were rejected by Islington Council who branded the scheme “bizarre”.

Speaking to the Tribune following the announcement that the pub will open once more, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, who previously called for the Tavern to reopen, said: “It feels like a big relief.

“We waited for so long for this to happen. We’ve invested so much in Navigator Square and having this landmark pub reopen is something really positive and I hope it’s a nice community pub for everyone.”

The square in front of the pub, formerly called Archway Square, was renamed Navigator Square as part of a £13million facelift that was completed two years ago. The name pays homage to the thousands of Irish navigators, or “navvies” for short, who moved to England to build the canal systems in the 19th century.

The Archway Tavern is the reported birthplace of the betting shop William Hill, while its interior was used on the cover of The Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies album in 1973.

Stephanie Smith, who runs the market in the square on Saturdays, said the news “was amazing”.

She said: “It will be fantastic to have an open pub. It’ll show people that Archway is open. A closed pub made it look like Archway was closed for business.

“People would talk to me about it constantly, asking what was happening with the pub. Now I can tell them it’s back.”

Ms Smith said the area had “really lacked a venue” since the loss of the Archway Tavern.

She added: “Sokol will be a great publican. He has so much experience running venues.”

Dr Imtiaz Sardar did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.

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