Ivy House poet: Alison


I first crossed the threshold of the Ivy House, or the Newlands Tavern as it was back then, on my last day of school in July 1974. I went to Honor Oak Girls (now Harris Girls) just up the road, and me and my mates had a whip round for a bottle of champagne. Cost us £3.50. We couldn’t have had much more than 2 tablespoons each. The first and last time I ever bought champagne in a pub!

In the mid/late 70s “The Newlands”, as it was known back then, was one of the venues to go to on the so called London “Pub Rock" scene. Think long hair, long coats, flares, and lots of smoke. I saw Ian Durie’s Kilburn and the High Roads there twice. They rocked the place “Rough Kids!”

I left the area after that, and didn't return till the 90s ,when I moved to Goose Green. Since then I've become reacquainted with the pub, mainly through its various club nights, and themed evenings. I’ve seen Comedy, done Salsa Dancing, and of course been a regular at “The Goose is Out“ folking evenings.

It’s a great venue for music, what with its nice stage and dance floor. I have a photo of me on that stage in about 1975. God knows what I was doing, and why I was dressed up to look like a French Woman. My mate Mick had this band "The Laughing Jack Gas Bag" Bit like “The Bonzos” but without so many laughs. They rehearsed there. I think I was meant to be doing backing vocal, but it was all pretty loose and anarchic, and all I remember is staggering around half cut with one platform boot on… I didn’t set foot on that stage again for 40 years, till the Performance Poetry evening, for the film project, in December 2014.

I'm always gutted to see a pub closing down. When you think about all the life and times that have been through them. There must’ve been a pub on every street in inner London years ago. Most that close never see the light of day again. Many get converted into housing, but the worst is when they knock them down, like my Auntie and Uncle's old pub “The Freetraders” just off the Old Kent Road. Those that don't get closed frequently have appalling makeover jobs, often changing their names, as if to try and airbrush away the past and reinvent themselves for the posh, young types that have “discovered” SE London, and moved into the area over the last 10 years.

Thankfully the Newlands has reopened, without the wholesale destruction of the interior. The lovely wood panelling, the different bar areas, and of course the stage and dance floor, remain an asset for the new owners, and its users. So a big Hoorah, for saving this venerable establishment.

Let's hear it for all those good old S.E London boozers, like “The Newlands” (Oops, I mean “The Ivy House”). Long may we drink, and make merry in them!


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