5.20pm update: The plot thickens as we’re hearing the pub has opened its doors again… read on for how things stood this morning.
The White Swan pub in Charlton Village has closed, possibly for the last time, after its tenants were evicted on Monday.
Multiple reports on social media say bailiffs threw out the pub’s current managers and changed the locks. The building is now deserted, with a sign on the door asking staff to text their details to a telephone number.
The pub was sold by Punch Taverns in March, with Isle of Man-based property developer Mendoza Ltd picking it up for £900,000.
Mendoza specialises in building above licensed premises, a process which often makes them unviable. In 2012 it evicted the tenants running Lewisham gay bar Two8Six in a similar fashion.
Over in north London, Mendoza and Golfrate doubled the rent on the Sovereign pub in Camden, reportedly leaving its 68-year-old landlord homeless. And in the east, TV presenter Stephen Mulhern was involved in a battle to save his brother’s pub, the Duke of Wellington in Spitalfields, earlier this year after Mendoza announced redevelopment plans.
Last year, Lewisham Council gave permission for extensions to the residential units above Two8Six – a new bar has appeared on the ground floor but doesn’t appear to have opened. Lambeth refused permission for flats above the Grosvenor in Stockwell, which now lies empty, but permitted development above the Beehive. Tower Hamlets has not yet taken a decision on the Duke of Wellington.
It certainly could be the end for the Swan as we know it – although there is the chance a smaller, quieter venue could emerge on the bottom floor, if Greenwich Council blocks any application to change its use.
The tight timescale and huge asking price meant it was always going to be a big, big ask for the community group which looked into saving the White Swan. But given Mendoza’s reputation, we can only assume the group’s sources were deliberately misled when they were told the pub was going to an existing operator.