Blacked-out Caledonian Road strip venue becomes award-winning pub

Restoration uncovers Victorian splendour - and ends Caledonian Road's long-standing connection with the sex industry

Friday, 7th April 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Steven Parissien centre with Simon Guthrie and Trevor Fage

Steven Parissien, centre, with Simon Guthrie and Trevor Fage, of Keystone Hospitality

A LISTED King’s Cross pub that was once a strippers’ joint has won a design award for the way it has been restored to Victorian splendour.

The Scottish Stores, a Grade II-listed building in Caledonian Road, was until two years ago The Flying Scotsman, a dingy pub with blacked-out windows.

But owner Keystone Hospitality has restored the late Victorian pub, singled out this week by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) as “a splendid example of how to bring a much-loved, urban landmark back to life”.

The Scottish Stores in Caledonian Road

On Wednesday, cultural and architectural historian Professor Steven Parissien, one of the judges on the Camra panel, handed the award to the pub’s deputy manager, Michael Howarth. He said: “It has been brought back to the community. It’s wonderful news at a time when so many pubs are closing.”

The £150,000 project, led by Keystone’s property manager Terry Rance – a founding member of heavy metal band Iron Maiden – saw two teams work 24 hours a day for three weeks to hand-strip black paint from the windows and wood.

Original features preserved include Jacobean-style woodwork, engraved windows and a series of coloured lithographs by artist Cecil Aldin (1870-1935) depicting hunting scenes.

Keystone director of operations Simon Guthrie said: “It’s a small pub and a real London boozer. We knew we had a unique selling point, to go back to the original feel. That’s what makes us stand out.

Blacked-out windows at The Flying Scotsman

“It’s been a labour of love. We’re proud of this pub, and I feel flattered that we got the award.”

The pub, designed by architects Wylson and Long in 1901, was originally known as the Haunch of Venison. In the 1980s it was renamed The Flying Scotsman.

In 2014, Keystone Hospitality battled with Islington Council to keep it open for another year to raise cash for the refurbishment. In the end, Town Hall chiefs granted a one-year lease.

The closure of The Flying Scotsman in October 2015 marked the end of a long-standing connection between the sex industry and Caledonian Road. Of the strip joints, sex shop and two erotic cinemas located in the Cally 10 years ago, none is left.

There were fears Scottish Stores would be turned into another gastro-pub but it does not sell food.

However, hungry drinkers can get a bite to eat in the adjacent The Wine Stores, also owned and run by Keystone.

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