This little-known pub will attract few to save it. But to a small Hackney community, it is precious

Acorn pub Queensbridge and Whiston rds 040716 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Haggy: Haggerston Park London E8 190714 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Grassy gentleness: the handsome Haggerston Park is opposite the Acorn

* UPDATE 061116: Last-minute bid to save pub

FEW PEOPLE would mourn the closing of the Acorn. It is the kind of pub that even at the peak of the immigration of millennials into Hackney made no attempt to boost its custom by attracting hipsters.

At times over the last few years its exterior looked so forbidding that passers-by thought it had closed.

The interior seems to be hung over from the 1980s if not the 1970s.

The probably unintentional lack of wider appeal is because it is simply a local, a centre for the people of the housing estates around the Haggerston end of Queensbridge and Whiston roads to congregate in, to moan about the usual things and to relax with a drink.

Haggyship: derelict pool in Haggerston Hackney LON 120313 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Derelict: Haggy baths is close to the pub

They instinctively know they have little in common with the middle-class youngsters — media types, rising City stars, estate agents, career musicians — that sort of person. The Acorn is a working-class pub.

It is unlikely to be theirs for much longer. The worth of the land, close to a heritage swimming-pool complex, the increasingly busy Regent’s Canal and the enchanting Haggerston Park, has been assessed as being greater than its worth as a local centre.

So an application has been made to Hackney council for demolition of the pub and the erection of a seven-floor block of flats. If the owner gets it up soon, bank loans for the development can be repaid and a quick profit turned. Another blow for a tiny community.

Camra national chairman Colin Valentine often hears of such blows. He told Loving Dalston: “Pubs are vital to community life and research has shown their benefit to our well-being and happiness, which is why Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) has worked so hard to secure asset of community value (ACV) listings for as many pubs as possible.

“It has become evident, however, that ACV listings are not enough to give pubs the protection they deserve from closure, or acquisition and demolition or redevelopment by investors.

“Communities are not getting enough of a say in the process when the pubs they treasure are threatened by closure or change of use.

“Permitted development rights create loopholes that are too often exploited by property developers riding roughshod over the spirit of planning laws.

“Camra is campaigning for planning rules to be strengthened so that full planning permission is required before a pub can be demolished or converted to another use.”

It can be done: Wandsworth council has removed permitted development rights from 121 pubs it considers vital community assets, which will make them far less vulnerable to property profiteering.

Hackney will be one of the London councils looking carefully at the move.

David Altheer 120916

* Backstory: Hackney pulls plug on Haggy Baths hopes; Hackney chronicler wades in to save baths; Investors flood in for pool; A soda kinda Hackney night out; Pint and a Dalston horseburger, please

* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com, and all for sale for reproduction. Most photographs are available in bigger formats

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4 thoughts on “This little-known pub will attract few to save it. But to a small Hackney community, it is precious

  1. My grandfather’s uncle ran the Acorn at the first turn of the last century. He was from Ireland and ran a pub beside the Anglican church, St George-in-the-East before that. He emigrated to New York.

    I know little else about him.

    I’d love to have a pint there some day. I hope the council will save it. There seems to be very little of old London left in that area because of bombing and redevelopment.

    There are signs, no more, just signs — of hope. — Ed.

  2. I grew up a stone’s throw away from the Acorn, so many summers days were spent running/walking past it to get to Haggerston Park. So many moments wondering what went on inside, trying to take a cheeky peek inside and making a run for it when we heard the drunken laughter or cheers.

    The Acorn was such an integral part of the community. Soon the entire area I grew up in will be flats… a soulless excess of flats.

  3. I’m so sad to hear the Acorn is closing. My mum and dad met in there on 25 December 1954 and married 10 months later. Fifty-nine years after that, we sadly lost my dad.

    A few months later, in 2013, Mum wanted to revisit the Acorn. It was very emotional and wonderfully interesting to see where my parents met.

    Both families of my parents also used the pub as their local. Such a shame.

    On behalf of my mum, thank you to the Acorn for being a big part of our lives all those years ago. xx

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