George Tavern

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Coordinates: 51°30′51″N 0°03′11″W / 51.5143°N 0.0530°W / 51.5143; -0.0530

The George Tavern
The George Tavern, music venue and historic pub in 2015.
Address 373 Commercial Road
Location Stepney, London, England
Owner Pauline Forster
Type venue, pub
Genre(s) blues, rock, punk, folk, indie, alternative
Capacity 150
Opened 1623
Reopened 2002
Rebuilt after 1745, 1820-25

The George Tavern is a Grade II listed public house and music venue located at 373 Commercial Rd, London E1, in Tower Hamlets owned and operated by artist Pauline Forster.[1]

Formerly known as the Halfway House, the building contains original brickwork some 700 years old, and is mentioned in texts by Chaucer, Pepys and Dickens. In 2002, Artist Pauline Forster bought the derelict building at auction and has reopened it as a music, performance and arts venue, and pub. It is also a popular location for photo, film, and video shoots.


The George Tavern was built approximately on the site of the Halfway House, believed to be of mid-17th century origin. Map evidence shows that the Halfway House was rebuilt in the 18th Century, after 1745, approximately 50 meters to the north east of the earlier inn; neither building appears on Horwood's map of 1819.[2]

The present building was probably built between 1820–25 and first appears on Greenwood's map of 1827. The pub therefore forms part of the development of Commercial Road, which was created following the Commercial Road Act of 1802 to link the newly-built East India Docks and West India Docks to the boundary of the City of London. The pub was remodelled in 1862 by James Harrison and the ground-floor pub interior was further remodelled in 1891 by R. A. Lewcock.[3]

In the 1970s a nightclub, Stepneys, was added in a building which backs onto the pub. The nightclub was famous for its illuminated dance floor.

The pub received Grade II listing in 1973 for the following reasons:

  • A handsome corner public house with well-detailed Italianate elevations of 1862, which has strong townscape interest
  • Retention of earlier features from remodelling 1820's building
  • Fine ornate tiling to bar, presumed to date from the 1891 remodelling
  • Group value with Nos 300 to 334 (even) opposite
  • Of historic interest as a reminder of the use of the site as an inn, possibly since the 17th Century, and as part of the early 19th Century development of Commercial Road, an important historic thoroughfare from the Docklands to the City.[4]

In 2002, Pauline Forster purchased the George Tavern at auction. The original plot was split at auction, with the nightclub Stepneys being sold to a landlord, who then sold it to Swan Housing Association. In 2008 Swan Housing Association submitted plans to the local council Tower Hamlets to build on what was once Stepney's Nightclub.

Kate Moss,[5] Amy Winehouse[6] and Sir Ian McKellen[7] joined a campaign[8] to try and stop[9] the plans. Tower Hamlets rejected the proposal.

In 2010, property company Swan Housing Association submitted new plans to Tower Hamlets which were again turned down by the local council. Swan then appealed this decision to the Secretary of State via the Planning Inspectorate who overruled the decision of Tower Hamlets and granted permission for the development in October 2014. The chair of Swan Housing Association, Valerie Owen OBE also serves on the board of the Planning Inspectorate.[10]

Another celebrity backed campaign was supported by John Cooper Clarke,[11] Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs and BBC talent show The Voice,[12] BBC radio DJ Jo Whiley, and Plan B. They were among the 3,200 signatories of a petition submitted to the Planning Inspectorate asking them to reject the appeal.[13] Music charity Music Heritage UK also backed this campaign.[14]

The George Tavern have appealed the decision of the Planning Inspectorate at the High Court with a hearing set for May 2015.

Music Venue and shoot location[edit]

Since 2002, the George Tavern has played host to a number of acts worthy of note including The Magic Numbers, Kodaline, John Cooper Clarke, Nick Cave, Anna Calvi, Sir Roger Penrose, John Cooper Clarke.

It continues to host live music on most nights of the week.

It has also played host to a number of artists who have used the George Tavern as a photo shoot or film location. This includes the upcoming Sally Potter film; Ginger & Rosa, MTV Bang, Plan B's film Ill Manors, Channel 4's The Morgana Show. Individual shoots with the likes of Kate Moss, Grandmaster Flash, Justin Timberlake, Adrien Brody, Grace Jones and Nick Cave have taken place on site too.[15]


In October 2008, The George Tavern was runner-up in the Stella Artois "Love Your Local Campaign",[16] a competition to find London's best loved pubs and highlight the struggling pub industry.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Venue Review - George Tavern, Whitechapel." Tourdates. 17 October 2008.
  2. ^ "The National List for England" "English Heritage. Accessed March 2015."
  3. ^ "The National List for England" "English Heritage. Accessed March 2015."
  4. ^ "The National List for England" "English Heritage. Accessed March 2015."
  5. ^ "Kate and Amy team up for pub." The Sun. 31 January 2008.
  6. ^ "Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss team up to help save pub – Tabloid Hell." NME. 31 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Gandalf conjures up support for campaign to save the George." Evening Standard. 24 April 2008.
  8. ^ "Inn crowd battle for pub" Evening Standard. 31 January 2008.
  9. ^ "By George! Kate and Amy win battle to save stars' music pub." Evening Standard. 3 August 2008.
  10. ^ "Board Members." Swan Housing. Accessed March 2015.
  11. ^ "John Cooper Clarke, Kaiser Chiefs, Lianne La Havas back campaign to save London's George Tavern." NME. 4 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Save the George Tavern (featuring Ricky Wilson & singers from the Voice)." YouTube. 3 March 2014.
  13. ^ "To uphold the original decision to refuse development on the site adjacent to The George Tavern, Commercial Road, Stepney." March 2014.
  14. ^ "Campaign page - Save the George Tavern." Music Heritage UK. February 2014.
  15. ^ "Location." The George Tavern website. Accessed March 2015.
  16. ^ "Top eight pubs in capital named." "Evening Standard". 20 October 2008.