Hope and Anchor, Islington

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Hope and Anchor
Hope & Anchor pub Upper Street, Islington.jpg
Hope and Anchor, Islington. (October 2005)
General information
LocationIslington, London, England
Completed1928 (current form)

Hope and Anchor is a pub on Upper Street, in the London Borough of Islington which first opened its doors in 1880.

During the mid-1970s it was one of the first pubs to embrace the emergent, but brief, phenomenon of pub rock. With the decline of this movement, the pub went on to become a leading venue in the punk rock movement. The Hope and Anchor is still an operational pub and live music venue today, owned and operated by the Greene King brewing company. Venue facilities have been improved via refurbishments over the years.

It is a Grade II listed building.[1]


Hope and Anchor can trace its history back to when the building was built in 1880. When The Tally Ho pub in Kentish Town decided to switch from showcasing rock music to Irish music, Hope and Anchor became the venue to go to in north London. The nights grew and developed under the stewardship of managers Fred Grainger and Dave Robinson, both of whom later moved on to other things (Fred to open a nightclub in Brighton, Dave to co-found independent record label Stiff Records with Jake Riviera).

In January 1976, the venue was acquired by Albion Management and Agency, who installed John Eichler as the landlord. In the light of numerous threats of closure, Eichler organised various benefits in order to keep the pub open, with well-established bands returning to the pub to perform for only expenses. Ian Grant of Albion Management and Agency narrowed down a long list to a final twenty two bands – all of which had played at the pub previously.

Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival, which took place between Tuesday 22 November and Thursday 15 December 1977, featured numerous pub rock, punk, and new wave groups. The recordings were issued as a live double album of the same name, which reached No. 28 in the UK Albums Chart.[2]

Notable acts[edit]

Unfortunately, few records exist of groups who performed at the Hope and Anchor. Below are a few (of the many) that are known to have played;

The actual performance space at Hope and Anchor was, at the time, a spartan and rather grubby basement space, alternately dank or overheated, and always smoky, but this in many ways suited the anarchic ideals of late-1970s live music. It was here that The Stranglers recorded their album Live at the Hope and Anchor. The demo of the 'Between You and Me' track as used on the Howling Wind first Graham Parker album was recorded in the basement.


The venue is made up of five floors, of which only three are accessible to the public.


The basement is the famous live music venue, and still operates as one today. It can be hired out by various promoters and groups for music shows. The maximum legal capacity is 80 persons, down from its previous maximum of 120. The stage has recently reverted to its seventies configuration with the bar located opposite the entrance door, and the stage adjacent to the recently modernised basic toilets, next to the emergency fire escape. At some point in its long history, the venue was converted to run as both a live music venue and as a recording studio, although the latter functionality has since been lost.

Ground floor[edit]

The ground floor contains the main bar, and a space for 120 people. There is a staircase by the main door (Upper Street entrance) leading to the basement. The side door leads to Islington Park Street. A staircase at the rear provides access to the first floor. The ground floor has a jukebox and fruit machine. The walls are lined with posters and vinyls of tickets and albums recorded at gigs there.

First floor[edit]

The first floor contains both male and female toilets. There used to be an upstairs bar located in the area here, which was later converted into a pool hall, as well as a lounge bar. It then became a private-hire function room. Since November 2013 The Hope Theatre is housed on the second floor of the pub. It was started by the King's Head Theatre as an experimental theatre aiming at giving stage to new writing,[3] before Matthew Parker took over as artistic director in October 2014.[4][5] It is now a fully functioning, award-winning Off West End theatre staging innovative and groundbreaking productions every week of the year.[6][7]

The rest of the building has no public access.

The pub was featured in the 1980 film, Breaking Glass.


  1. ^ Historic England. "Hope and Anchor Public House (1195774)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ The King's Head Theatre webpage
  4. ^ The Hope Theatre webpage
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]

Coordinates: 51°32′36″N 0°06′12″W / 51.5432°N 0.1034°W / 51.5432; -0.1034