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Barrister vows to reopen Clerkenwell’s Sekforde Arms – but regulars fear for the future nearby Coach and Horses

Barrister David Lonsdale

Barrister David Lonsdale, above, who has pledged to save the Sekforde Arms, below

Sekforde Arms

Published: 14 August, 2015
by JOE COOPER

A BARRISTER has vowed to reopen Clerkenwell’s Sekforde Arms, which dates back 175 years.

But another popular pub nearby, the Coach and Horses, faces an uncertain future, with its doors closed and plans to turn it into flats.

Regulars at the Sekforde Arms feared their pub was also to be turned into luxury flats or a posh restaurant when it closed at the end of last month. 

But barrister David Lonsdale this week moved to reassure drink­ers that their beloved boozer will open again.

Mr Lonsdale, who lives in Farringdon Road, is building a cottage at the back of the pub, which he says will finance its £1m redevelopment.  

He plans to convert and live in the top floor of the Sekforde Road pub while refurbishing the toilets, kitchen and basement.

“People shouldn’t worry that it will be a totally different place – it won’t be exclusive,” he told the Tribune. “I have no intention of turning it into a French restaurant.

“It will remain a welcoming pub serving locals and people further afield.”


Regulars toast the Coach and Horses before its closure at the end of last month [Photo: Steve McCubbin]

But at nearby Coach and Horses, which closed around the same time, drinkers fear for its future after a development company submitted a planning application to Islington Council requesting to turn much of the late Victorian pub into flats.

The Ray Street pub – a favourite haunt of Guardian journalists when the newspaper was based in Farringdon Road – closed at the end of July.

Regular Alwynne Gwilt said: “The pub was special because it was a classic boozer with a beautiful setting and fantastic food. 

“The pub quizzes were legendary, attracting people who worked across the food and media world.”

She added: “I’m sad to see it go because there are fewer and fewer unique and interesting pubs in London. Places like this used to dominate the landscape and once they are lost, changed into yet another flat or chain pub, there’s no going back. 

“We’re losing part of the heritage that makes London what it is.” 

Punch Taverns sold the freehold in October 2014 to Taverna Investments for £1,650,000.

Guernsey-based Taverna Investments could not be reached for comment. Planning documents show that the firm wants to convert the building into three two-bedroom flats.

James Watson, pub preservation officer for City branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “I fear for the future of the Coach and Horses. It’s a beautiful old building.”

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