I feel really lucky to have been asked to document the restoration of a Victorian pub in Wandsworth, and to be involved in some small way in the project. As I have alluded to on social media, Brendan Conway, the new joint owner of the Grosvenor Arms has plans that go far beyond merely updating a building, albeit one that has already benefitted from an injection of cash thanks to him and his team. It is not merely a superficial project. Brendan and his wife, Rowan, along with his brother Fintan, have committed to ensuring the pub is part of the community, a place where people can meet, get to know each other, hold events and share ideas. I really admire the project as it is rooted in ethics and motivations that are quite different to what we have come to expect from large corporations that often take over old pubs, either homogenising or plasticising them. And even removing crisps from the menu! I mean it – I once tried to get a packet of crisps in one such homogenised pub and was told they only do home-made ones, but since the chef was off they couldn’t supply me with any, and had no alternative snacks either…. true story, in a pub! Gentrification with its head right up its wots it in that particular case…. Worse still, large organisations have often knocked these old buildings down, buildings that were once the centre of communities, and replaced them with flats no one can afford, designed for singletons and couples rather than familes, making it harder for people to live. Brendan is keen to prevent Garratt Lane from turning into a place that has few places for locals to meet up, and his biggest wish, from what I can make out, is to regenerate not wealth, but instead a healthy sense of community and solid relationships within it. I also like that Brendan has so much time and respect for the previous landlady and the customers who frequented the pub before he took it over. All in all, I think he’s on to a winner. And I think the world and businesses need more people with ideas like Brendan’s and less of the homogenising building types along with the community demolishers out there.
This week I am posting a handful of photographs that give you an indication of the enormous amount of work that has gone into the refurbishment. Plus a couple of others from the opening party. See the Grosvenor Arm’s social media and website for more.
All images (c)SJField 2016 – please get in touch if you wish to use any of these images.
The images below start with shots from the pub before it was closed for refurbishment, and show some during the process. The last four are from just before opening on Saturday evening at 8pm.
Just some of the images from Saturday night’s opening. A really busy successful evening and the first of many to come. Good luck, Grosvenor Arms and the Conways!