In September 2014, we learned that the Royal Vauxhall Tavern had been sold to property developers Immovate. When they declined to meet with the RVT community or outline their plans for the site, we got worried.
We quickly secured Asset of Community Value status for the pub, which protects it against a sudden change of use and would give us the chance to bid for it if it were put on the market again.
We also had a more ambitious idea. What if the RVT were made a listed building? Then it would be really hard for Immovate to knock it down or remove its ability to serve the community.
It would be a big ask and a major break with tradition. No building has ever been listed because of its importance to LGBTQ heritage before. But, we thought, why shouldn’t the Royal Vauxhall Tavern be the first? Our history and community are as much a part of the national story as anyone else’s. It’s high time that was recognised!
So, with the support of his fellow members of RVT Future, and other friends of the Tavern, Ben Walters set about compiling the case for the RVT’s historic value both as a piece of architecture and as a unique community hub going back generations.
It took 15,000 words for Ben to tell the story of the RVT. In January 2015, he submitted his application to English Heritage (which was renamed Historic England soon afterwards).
Historic England then looked into the case and released an interim report with their thoughts so far. We reckoned it sounded a bit lukewarm so we rounded up more than 30 eminent types, including artists, architects, academics, charities, residents’ groups and politicians, to write letters of support.
Drawing on these letters and his own ongoing research, Ben submitted a supplementary submission – a further 15,000 words to bolster our case a further 15,000 words to bolster our case.
We’re expecting to hear the results of the application any day now. While we watch the clock, we thought we’d make Ben’s documents available for you to read.
Hope you find them interesting!