Friday, 26 March 2010

The White Hart pub - explanation for renaming

Being well-connected online sometimes pays off.  Shortly after the post I made yesterday, I was followed on Twitter by somebody who owns a group of pubs, amongst them, The White Hart.

Here is a slightly cut down version of why there is a proposed name change for The White Hart and why the White Hart is planning to close and re-open as The Tommyfield:
* The White Hart is a very large modern space on a very busy junction. The primary argument for retaining the name would be that it is a wonderful old pub, and changing it's name would be like ripping its soul out. However, it's not felt that this is a strong argument re. The White Hart due to the fact that the pub's original interior has not been retained.

* In order for a pub to thrive, it needs a very distinct identity, in order to differentiate itself from the multitude of pubs in the area and draw people from further afield. "The White Hart" is apparently the fourth most popular pub name in the country. The owners think it makes sense for a pub to have a unique name to mark it out. A name change is recognised not to make a pub better, but it's one change among many that can galvanise a business. The White Hart will change on a multitude of fronts, and a new name is the single most direct way of communicating this change.

* The pub is in need of more significant refurbishment than originally anticipated and considerable income needs to be generated to facilitate this. Unfortunately, turnover at The White Hart has been in decline for several years (partly due to its own shortcomings. Consquently, the owners have had to take a "hard-nosed commercial view on the issue". Pubs have come under enormous pressure in recent years: the smoking ban, ever-increasing duty on alcohol, big business rate rises, escalating cost of good quality meat & fish, rising minimum wage etc etc. All of this squeezes profit margin and forces the focus to be on creating the most appealing pub possible.

The question for local SE11 residents, of course, is whether what makes a pub appealing to the general public is the same as what makes it appealing to them?

Cllr Mark Harrison has commented on the previous post on the issue of extending licencing hours that, 'The Doghouse and the Little Apple both have 1am licences on Fridays and Saturdays. People who want to object [to the extension of hours] will need to demonstrate that problems will result from the extension. Objections from the immediate neighbours of the White Hart will carry the most weight.'

On a related note... Please do check out a wonderful photo blog here, as somebody has painstakingly photographed a number of open (and closed) pubs in the Kennington and North Lambeth area, in what should prove a useful historical record (if pub closures continue at such a steady rate).


Mark Harrison said...

The link to the blog about revisiting pubs in North Lambeth is fascinating- thanks for signposting it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the White Hart is a common name for pubs but I think in this case there is a specific Kennington connection - the White Hart was the crest of Richard II (the son of the Black Prince) who as a little boy lived at Kennington Palace, the site of which is across the road from the pub. Seems a shame to lose that connection.

Tim said...

Thanks for the mention and link to my photoblog,

I plan to do future posts on the Vauxhall and Waterloo pubs in Peter Walker's 1989 guide to North Lambeth boozers to show how they have fared over the past 21 years.

Anonymous said...

The DOghouse is a horrid pub run by a weed smoking arrogant aussie. The seating area outside is over sized, and out of charactor. not to mention huge bins and 5 sings on the pavement.
The people sit out there til 2am, so a 1am licence means nothing....
What does Harrison think about the DOghouse, or is he like other councillors cosy with the landlord...

Cathy said...

Dear Anonymous - I'm surprised to read your comments about The Dog House. I'm there each Sunday for my roast lamb and enjoying seeing so many familiar faces. I think Vance is doing a great job. Pubs have had a difficult time of late.

Sid Boggle said...

The business which operates the White Hart is also called Tommyfield. I note from heir website that they operate several pubs on the premise that they are linked to their areas - I wonder if they're going to re-brand their entire estate?

The pub was, for many years, The White Hart, a 2-room Irish pub. Once it closed, it was for a lonf time La Finca, a tapas place that faded away. As a previous poster notes, Kennington Palace was located on the site of what is now Edinburgh House, so there is a link. The theme used to be common in the area - I think the Dog House was The Stag until the early 90's, with a white stag on the pub sign.

I can remember a time (mid-80s) when there were 26 pubs stretching from what is now Toulous-Lautrec down towards Vauxhall. Probably an unsustainable number for such a small area, and many have gone or are closed. The photoblog is an interesting record of how some of them have fared.

Cathy said...

The Dog House was once The Roebuck.

Sid Boggle said...

@Cathy: I knew it was some sort of even-toed ungulate... ;-)

Anonymous said...


I say what i say about the doghouse with 10 years experience of the pub. it has gone downhill.

trust me, they are making a fair whack.

the guy who runs it is slippery.

WDT Davis said...

When the "White Hart" was renamed the "Finca" over twenty years ago, I decided, along with family and friends, never to go back in until it returned to it's original title the "White Hart".
It was built on the historic White Hart, Kennington fields. The "White Bear" on the otherside of Prince's Square, (sorry! Now Cleaver Square! Hey, I'm a local!) was built on White Bear fields. It's historic; keep it that way.

When the "Finca" finally became the "White Hart" once more, I returned and spent about £100 a week in there; on drink and food.

I used to point out that Charlie Chaplin last saw his Dad in there, Charles Chaplin senior, as a boy, shortly before his death from Dropsey. (Read his autobiography!)

Now it's been stupidly been renamed once more! Why? Pointless and stupid. You've certainly lost me as a customer, the sort that pub owners pray for, to pay the morgage.

The Prince of Wales, The Ship, The Black Prince now have my custom along with my drunken, hard spending crew. Shame the owner's of "The White Hart" saw fit to lose us?
Change it back?

Label Cloud

Blog Archive