King's Head Closes

Posted on 6 July 2004 in Pubs (No comments)

The proposals are acceptable in principle, and would create employment opportunities while at the same time preserving the character of the conservation area and ensuring the long-term future of this important locally listed building.

Merton Council report, as reported in The Post, 1 July 2004, page 11

The council report which condemned the historic 1930s pub, The King's Head in Colliers Wood, to become offices for London General buses. Whilst the outside of this 'important locally listed building' will remain fine and dandy, the inside with its largely preserved 1930s interior - unique in South London - well, who knows? Converting a pub with serveral large rooms into offices for a bus depot... well it seems unlikely that the wood panelling and the bar will be staying.

To add insult to injury, its car park and outdoor seating area will be used to store buses.

Young's Brewery blamed the closure on falling revenues, citing the large amount of competition in the area. It's true there are a fair few pubs in the neighbourhood, although the nearby Riverside Jazz pub closed down recently as well, but lets be honest here - who wants to visit a pub that doesn't look like it has been painted for 20 years? Or whose toilets are smelly and have broken windows? It's no surprise Youngs had trouble getting punters in when they didn't invest in the place.

As I mentioned on this site just over a month ago, this is a pub that could have been loved and cherished by its users - and have been busy every night. Even just down the road from us, not ten minutes away, a burnt out wreck of a pub looks like it's being brought back to life and if the nearby Wacky Warehouse tacky theme pub can be, there's no reason why the Kings Head couldn't have been.

And not even time to organise a proper wake... Walking past today, I found out I'd missed it. The pub had closed last Sunday, just four days after planning permission was finally given for the change in use. If I'd known, I would have gone and said goodbye.

Yes I'd only been in there three times since moving to Colliers Wood but given the state of the place, it's not surprising no one went. And yes I've only been in Colliers Wood just over a month. But I saw with my own eyes what that place could have been - and it could have been so much better than it was. Some companies prize and cherrish their old pubs - put love and tender care into them. Not this one.

No doubt London General paid very well for the pub - it's a perfect location for them, being right next to their depot. And in the world where money is everything, who needs history? Ironically there are a row of empty shops London General could also have used for offices although no doubt they didn't come with a nice bit of car park to shove buses on.

Scarily some research shows its not the first pub in the area they've tried to flog - the lovely Princess of Wales, popular pub with the cast of The Bill, and a firm fave of mine, was nearly torn down by Young's in 1997 to become a car showroom...

As for the Kings Head, well the outside might be safe, but who is looking out for the inside... Bye bye historic 1930s interior? Well even if the new owners love and cherrish the building, conversion to offices will take its toll...

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