Historic Unicorn pub could be set to reopen after falling victim to Covid lockdowns

The Unicorn, pictured in 2011. Photograph: Ewan Munro / Flickr

An alternative live music venue could reopen – with a supermarket attached.

The historic Unicorn was a popular rock and “underground” music venue but closed in 2020 when it was hit hard by the lockdown.

This followed a crowdfunder which raised more than £5,400 to help it absorb some of the costs of the pandemic.

The pub on the corner of Camden and Brecknock roads was known as a “a standalone, grassroots music venue serving not just the local Camden and Holloway underground music scene but has a reputation for accommodating touring artistes from all over the world”.

The Unicorn was one of 150 pubs, bars and restaurants to close in 2020 because of the pandemic.

It first opened in 1839 when landlord James Stone presided over a hostelry in open countryside, opposite a toll gate.

Pub owners Warwick Classic Cars want “to bring it back to life” as a pub but said changes are needed to make it viable.

They outlined plans to create a soundproofed space in the basement for live music, with seven flats above the pub and revealed they were in talks with “leading food retailers”  including the Co-op and Amazon to open a food shop in part of the ground floor.

A heritage report submitted as part of a new planning application said changes were needed “as the business is no longer considered viable”.

The owners aim “to restore a highly visible local historic building and re-establish uses both to the benefit of the local and wider community”.

It has also talked to experienced live music operator Powerhaus Camden about getting involved and they have helped draw up a management plan.

The heritage report by Firstplan Ltd said: “Proposing to locate the majority of the pub’s floorspace at basement level would undermine its viability as a working pub.”

The report said the lack of separation between the live music and bar areas “undermined” the pub and meant it could not generate enough income with the bar and music areas running independently. as the music filled the pub.

“This inflexibility meant the pub and music venue could not generate sufficient income from mixed sources.”

Instead it proposes ” a flexible performance space” in the basement with a new outdoor seating area on Camden Road.

The report explained: “It is recognised that The Unicorn pub and live music venue can in the future play an important community and cultural role within the local area, and as such, a key driver of the proposed scheme has been to find a feasible and viable solution to enable the pub and live music venue to re-establish itself, whilst retaining and enhancing the original 19th century building to reflect the history and development of this part of Camden.”

The heritage report added that an existing five bedroom flat upstairs “is in a dilapidated state, and like the rest of the building, needs extensive renovation having suffered a lack of investment for many years”.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.