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26/07/2022

Former East Ham ‘gin palace’ receives top award

Boleyn Tavern

©2021 Andrew Baker

Boleyn Tavern in East Ham has won the ‘Community Local’ category in the prestigious CAMRA Pub Design Awards  

A former ‘gin palace’ in East Ham has been named winner in the Community Local category, which recognises street-corner locals as a focus for communities, in the highly acclaimed Pub Design Awards, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale.  

The Boleyn Tavern in East Ham was an elaborate ‘gin palace’ built in 1899, which was long the venue for the pre-match pint for West Ham supporters on their way to the nearby ground. With the team moving away to a new home, the pub, like the surrounding area, went into decline. It had already lost much of its internal partitioning during the vogue for opening out pubs in the 1970s and 1980s, and was in a sorry state when purchased by the current owners, Remarkable Pubs Ltd.   

Remarkable Pubs Ltd spent around 18 months, and around £1.5m, in lovingly overhauling the building, working with Anthony Clark of Clark Architecture. The original seven bars have been restored, with the recreation of the glazed partitions between them using traditional materials and techniques. Surviving features have been carefully repaired; the billiard room to the rear of the building, with its spectacular stained-glass skylight, is particularly impressive. This room is now used for dining, with an open kitchen incorporated against the back wall. An impressive building for a ‘street corner local’, the Boleyn is once again at the heart of the local community.  

There was a total of six award winners and one highly commended pub across different categories, ranging from refurbishment to new build in this year’s awards. These include:  

  • New Build: Brewpoint, Bedford & Crown Wharf, Stone, Staffordshire (joint winners)  
  • Refurbishment: King’s Arms, Dorchester (winner), Bleeding Wolf, Cheshire (highly commended)  
  • Historic England Conservation: Castle, Macclesfield and Coach & Horses, Barnburgh (joint winners)   
  • Community Local: Boleyn Tavern, East Ham (winner)   

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “Once again, the awards underline just how varied Britain’s pubs are, and we have had a hard job in selecting the winners from the entries submitted. Amongst the award winners we have new pubs, old pubs, urban pubs, rural pubs, elegant old inns, elaborate Victorian ‘gin palaces’, and inter-war pubs. There was a concern that pub owners would suspend work on their buildings during the pandemic, but quite a few seem to have taken the opportunity of enforced closure to plan and carry out repairs, restoration, and improvements.  

“What links them is that their owners and their architects have responded to them as individual buildings, rather than applying a standard formula – the result is a fantastically varied selection of winners. We applaud them all, and trust that these revitalised buildings will be serving their communities for many years to come.”   

CAMRA will be celebrating the achievement with a presentation event at one of the other winning pubs – the Boleyn Tavern in East Ham, London – on 26 July, which is open to the press. If you would like to attend, please contact press@camra.org.uk   

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