Eight months ago, we applied to make the UK’s oldest LGBTQ pub, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a listed building.
The result has finally come through and it’s good news. We won!
As of today, the RVT becomes the first building in the nation to be listed for its place in LGBTQ history and heritage. It’s a brilliant recognition of the Tavern’s unique role in our country’s story, and also a vital protection against radical redevelopment.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the designation, which had been recommended by Historic England (formerly English Heritage). Here’s the official listing.
As you can imagine, all of us at RVT Future are over the moon.
Our chair, Amy Lamé, co-founder and host of long-running RVT night Duckie, said:
“The listing is a fantastic milestone for our community and a victory against the odds for our beloved pub. We look forward to continuing our work to ensure the RVT remains a vibrant space of LGBTQ community and culture for generations to come. The RVT now joins New York’s Stonewall Inn, home of the gay liberation movement, in being officially recognised for its contribution to social history. We thank our many, many supporters from across London and further afield.”
The listing is a reflection of the love shown for the Tavern since its sale to international property developers Immovate was revealed last year. Immovate, who are based in Austria, have so far declined to reveal their plans for the site or meet with the RVT community.
Numerous public figures wrote to Historic England to support the listing application, which was submitted in January by RVT Future’s Ben Walters.
Supporters include Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Sir Ian McKellen and RVT veteran Paul O’Grady, as well as local residents, charities, architects, historians and politicians.
A listing will make it much harder for Immovate to get planning permission to knock the Tavern down or redevelop it in ways that go against its history.
But it’s far from the end of the fight.
Immovate have claimed a listing would force the closure of the pub because of unspecified costs. However, many other listed pubs in London thrive, often using the kudos of a designation to promote their venue.
And business has been booming at the Tavern since RVT Future officially launched in April.
RVT Future campaign manager and Push The Button promoter Rob Holley said:
“We’re chuffed to bits but our work isn’t finished! We’re now calling upon Immovate to finally talk to us, so we can all ensure this special venue continues to flourish at what it does best: serving the community.
“If Immovate don’t think they can make the Tavern work as a listed pub, we invite them to open discussions about a community buy-out. Sell it to a group of people who actually have faith in the commercial viability of this phenomenal venue. We have the means to do this and some exciting ideas about how the RVT could be improved for everybody.
“Meanwhile, we invite everyone who cherishes the Tavern to join us at the bar to celebrate!”
It’s a momentous day for our campaign, and for all those who care about independent London culture and LGBTQ heritage. We’re working on plans for a party to mark the occasion – to be among the first to hear about it, and all the other news about the RVT, make sure you join up to our mailing list.
If you have questions about the listing, check out our RVT Listing FAQS here.
See you at the bar!