Regulars fight plan to turn pub into a shul

By Marcus Dysch, September 26, 2008

Plans to turn a North-East London pub into a synagogue and community centre may be scrapped despite members of a strictly Orthodox community having exchanged contracts to buy the popular local this week.

Last month, the JC revealed that representatives of Stamford Hill's Bobov community planned to buy the Swan pub for around £1 million and turn it into a shul and communal centre.

The proposals were met with angry opposition from regulars at the Clapton Common pub, who only learned of the sale after reading about it in the JC. In response, they set up a Save the Swan campaign group.

Their defiance may yet prove successful, despite the Bobovs exchanging contracts with Punch Taverns, which own the pub, last Friday.

Solomon Goldman, who represents the buyers, said: "That was our intention [to turn it into a shul], but now it's to get on with people. We never thought about how upset people would be."

He said there was no time frame for deciding the future of the building, and added that it was "interesting" that the campaign had been so vocal in its opposition.

Mr Goldman said the buyers would be happy to meet landlady, Ellen McLean, and the campaigners to discuss whether it would be "worthwhile" to offer them a new lease to keep the Swan open as a pub.
He had previously said a refurbishment could turn the building into a complex with a 150-strong capacity.
A Save the Swan spokesman said: "We welcome the change of position and hope to meet the buyers as soon as possible. We will not give up the fight to keep the pub open."

Punch Taverns confirmed that contracts had been exchanged but declined to reveal further details. It is thought the Bobovs will take responsibility for the building next month.


Last updated: 12:44pm, September 25 2008