Estimated reading time:7 minutes, 20 seconds
Everyone has a story. The golden days of pubs may be over but Islington is lucky â some of the new landlords, like Ade Clarke at The Lamb Beer & Liquor know how to mix music, real ale and people to create pubs that make you feel just like a local. Interview by Nicola Baird
âI love being behind the bar. This pub has got a great feel â itâs a shabby boozer but wears its history well. By history, I donât mean Charles I ordered a flagon of Camden Hells lager here in 1631, I mean that for 150 years people have come through those doors and had a good night out. Thatâs a precious thing.â Ade Clarke, pub landlord of The Lamb Beer & Liquor since Â November 2014, loves history so much that he qualified as an Clerkenwell and Islington guide* four years ago.
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Turns out that Ade, 53, who grew up in Hatfield, has been driving past his pub since childhood. âIâve always known the Holloway Road well because itâs the A1 and we always came along it when we came into London or drove home.â
Ade and his business partner Rosamund Watson (whose CV includes experience at Moro and the Quality Chop House) moved to London in the early â80s. He studied at City of London Poly and Roz at the London College of Fashion. Now their shared love of âmusic and dressing interestinglyâ, as Ade in his fake leopard print cap puts it, has led them to become pub landlords skilled at creating an atmosphere of âshabby, magical, cosinessâ.
Already The Lamb Beer & Liquor is attracting a local following with its candlelit piano in the corner, dark wall panels, comfy banquettes in the bar and a great stock of London beers including Camden Town Brewery, London Fields Brewery, Hackney Brewery and N7âs own Hammerton Brewery often delivered by brew master Lee Hammerton himself. Thereâs also a growing calendar of events including fiendish Monday night quizzes â set by Pete, Irish music on Tuesdays and Sundays. http://www.hammertonbrewery.co.uk/
Places pub landlord Ade Clarke likes in Islington
âDespite all my years in London if I get past Marble Arch âthere be monstersâ. Roz (my business partner) and I looked for three or four years until we found the Lamb Beer & Liquor. So apart from our pub I like:
- âHolloway Road has something of a rock and roll history and the music we play reflects that. 1960s record producer Joe Meek (of Telstar fame) had his studio down the road, The Lord Nelson pub (now The Horatia) was an important venue during the 1970s in the days of pub rock, and Iâve seen a bizarre photo from 1970 of John Lennon and Yoko Ono standing on the roof of what is now The Wig and Gown bar*.”
- Central Fish Bar, 149-155 Central Street, south of City Road in St Lukeâs is a great place. It started as a fish and chip shop but now it’s a fish restaurant with a real mix of diners.
- Hope Workers CafĂ©, 111 Holloway Road is a really old school London caff. The food is homemade and reasonably priced (tea is 80p). And I love the lettering, so 1940s.
- Shakespeareâs Head, 1 Arlington Way, next to Sadler’s Wells looks like a 1960s estate pub but has a bell for when the interval ends, and sometimes fills up with dancers. Iâve had some good times there.
- Itâs great to see the 12 Bar Club from Denmark Street finding a new home at 203 Holloway Road.
- For a posh dinner it’s hard to beat The Almeida, 30 Almeida Street. I had a little party for my Mum’s 90th birthday there, a few weeks ago, and the food and staff were lovely.
âMusic is important. The Irish sessions are a nod to Holloway Roadâs Irish heritage. We have regular bluegrass sessions too. Our manager Martin Thompson is in an indie band called The Fire Stations. Our playlists are interesting it could be anything from 1920s tea dance to 2015 indie sounds,â adds Ade.
Pub with a history
Since the late 19th century 54 Holloway Roadâs wooden interior, and green tiled exterior, has been tempting Holloway Road drinkers. Adrian thinks his pub was originally a beer house called The Lamb. âItâs a traditional pub name, and Holloway Road was once a droving route, or perhaps even a pilgrimage route,” he says. Holloway locals may also remember The Lamb as Barcosa and also Tank when it boasted an iguana and anaconda cage. Or what about the Flounder & Firkin stage during which port holes were made in the wooden floor that allows drinkers to watch brewing in the cellar?
âWe think that the pub dates from the 1870s and it was known as The Highbury Brewery Tap up until 1985. The Highbury Brewery was established in Holloway Road in 1815 and was operational for 100 years,â explains Adrian.Â Itâs clear heâs a real fan of Islington through the years.
When youâre open from 4pm-midnight week days and until half past midnight on Fridays and Saturdays thereâs a lot to be said for making your daily commute a bit shorter.Â âMy missus, Anji, and I are going to move here in the new year,” he says. “I like Holloway Road and the diversity in Islington â and I feel like Iâm the oldest person in Spitalfields sometimes. Itâs time to move on.â
âItâs been a steep learning curve â helped by Martin who was the manager here for three years. But I enjoy chatting to customers and I love the way more and more people come in on their own because they know theyâll know someone in here. Thatâs why the pub tends to fill up as the evening goes on,â adds Adrian.
Holloway Road pubs are enjoying a renaissance. But even with these new improved local boozers Ade and Rosamund’s The Lamb Beer & Liquor stands out as a friendly pub, with a great selection of real ale and wine, run by two landlords who have lots of ideas â from history talks and art curation of the old iguana tank to live music nights â that theyâd like you to share.Â See you there: I’ll haveÂ a half!
- The Lamb Beer & Liquor, 54 Holloway Road, N7, nearest tube Highbury & Islington. @thelambpub
Monday â quiz night (ÂŁ1.50pp, teams of six maximum)
Tuesday & most Sundays â Irish music
- If you enjoyed this pub interview here’s another from Islington Faces with Tony Bedwell,Â manager of the Highbury Barn
Read about the Wig & Gown’sÂ links toÂ Michael X and the Black House of Holloway Road on this blog.
Over to you
If youâd like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.
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This blog is inspired byÂ Spitalfields LifeÂ written by the Gentle Author.
If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at theÂ A-Z Â index, orÂ search by intervieweeâs roles orÂ Meet IslingtoniansÂ to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola