Swan pub in limbo as doors close

By Marcus Dysch, December 18, 2008

A pub which is due to be converted into a synagogue by a strictly Orthodox community will close next month, although its long-term future remains uncertain.

Representatives of Stamford Hill’s Bobov community have been in discussions to buy The Swan for around £1 million since the summer.

But they have faced obstacles from pub regulars who set up a Save the Swan campaign and arguments with a rival Bobov faction.

The discovery of a restrictive covenant, which prohibits the future use of the building as a pub, has also threatened the deal.

The Swan, in Clapton Common, will close on January 5 but with the sale not yet completed, the campaigners and potential buyers remain in limbo.

Hackney Council confirmed it has not received a change-of-use planning application, meaning the pub cannot be used as a shul or community centre in the near future.

Save the Swan leaders said they remained optimistic about re-opening their local as a private members’ club or with new licensees, if the covenant can be overturned.

Spokeswoman Sasha Johnson said: “It will be shut and then left empty. The Bobovs told us that they may not be in the building until July next year, if they go ahead with the purchase.

“It is frustrating — because the whole thing has been so badly handled.”

Landlady Ellen McLean, who lives at the pub, will move out on January 6.

Last updated: 3:08pm, December 18 2008