Fancy running Charlton’s Bugle Horn pub?

The Bugle Horn - © Chris Whippet and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The Bugle Horn – © Chris Whippet and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

After all the kerfuffle over the White Swan, Charlton village’s oldest pub, the Bugle Horn, is looking for new management – the current bosses are stepping down next month.

A beautiful building in a decent location – you could be onto a winner. Although you’d have to work with Punch Taverns, which owns the place.

And the listing doesn’t really go out to sell its potential…

“An authentic village pub in the heart of south-east london. Set in a part of the capital with a genuinely ‘villagey’ feel, the Bugle Horn is a favourite with fans of Charlton Athletic. The pub was formed from three 18th century cottages were melded to make a public house, but it has a much more contemporary feeling today thanks to fresh paintwork and signage – the colours hint at the allegiances of the pub…”

A pub that’s only going to get customers for 25 days a year, then?

“The incoming operator will be looking to establish a more balanced ‘rhythm of the week’ that will attract families, after-work drinkers and occasion diners to sample the pub’s wares, in terms of food as well as ale.”

That’s more like it.

“There’s a function room which could be promoted to better effect, in conjunction with the commercial kitchen, and the 15-space car park is a real boon in a part of town where parking can be at a premium.”

I can think of better things to do with the car park than have cars. Host a market?

“However, the new angle for the Bugle Horn should be an appeal that goes beyond sport: there is the opportunity to drive a food-led push, so an operator with experience within catering will see ways in which to turn their ideas into reality. Charlton is a pretty part of London with a real village feel to it – there is a heated lido and sports centre for fun and fitness and the housing is varied and affordable – for now. The area is undergoing an explosion in popularity which is attracting more affluent folks to the area – and as that continues, they’ll be pleased to find a spot to eat, as food outlets are thin on the ground in Charlton Village. Transport-wise, you can be at London Bridge Station in less than 20 minutes.”

With the White Swan poised for new ownership, and the Bugle looking for new management, are we about to see big changes for our local pubs? Or will things stay no more imaginative than karaoke and football on Sky? Your thoughts on what the Bugle could offer would be appreciated.

Charlton’s White Swan campaign winds down – is the pub now safe?

White Swan, Charlton, 12 December 2013/ Nikki Coates
The campaign to save Charlton Village’s White Swan is winding down after it emerged the venue is likely to stay in use as a pub after it is sold to new owners.

The pub’s future has been in question for some time after protracted efforts by its owner, Punch Taverns, to sell the building.

It was declared an asset of community value last March. Punch confirmed its intention to sell the building in October, triggering a six-month period for community groups to register their interest.

The Save The White Swan group was formed to investigate ways of buying the pub – a tough ask with the pub on the market for £950,000. But it has decided to wind down its operations after being assured the Swan will be kept in use after its sale. The buyer is believed to be a pub company, but the sale cannot go through until after the asset of community value moratorium ends on 23 March.

“We decided that we couldn’t in good faith go ahead with a campaign asking people to stump up hundreds and thousands of pounds if the White Swan wasn’t actually, for now, at risk,” the campaign’s Paul Chapman wrote on its website.

“The money we needed to raise was always going to be a record-breaking sum, at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch financially… and the near-certainty of the Swan remaining a pub made it impossible.”

Charlton’s pub-watchers will now need to stay vigilant and keep an eye on what happens next with the Swan, and hope that the interest generated in the pub – sparked by a Facebook group calling for Woolwich Equitable owner Antic to take over – will convince a new owner to give it a much-needed revamp.

Similarly, the future of the village’s oldest pub, the Bugle Horn, will also need watching. The Bugle – which is also owned by Punch Taverns – does not have the same ACV protection as the Swan, while its management has been unhappy about the attention focused on its neighbour.

It’s worth pointing out that Greenwich Council could do a lot to secure the future of both venues by putting Article 4 directions on them, preventing a change of use. That’s a tactic which eventually worked in Catford, when Lewisham Council stopped the Catford Bridge Tavern from becoming a supermarket. New owners are hoping to reopen it later this year.

While a lot remains uncertain, the campaign group certainly deserves a pat on the back for keeping the issue in the public eye and picking up the baton from the Charlton Society‘s original decision to try to protect the pub. Greenwich Council’s deputy leader John Fahy also deserves thanks for using his contacts to bring interested parties together.

The campaign group also deserves credit for battling on, despite the stress caused by a former manager of the pub’s attempt to start a rival campaign, which solicited for donations to his own private account (something the official campaign wasn’t doing).

Hopefully they won’t be forced to reconvene to try to save another pub – but who knows?