King William IV landlord defends ‘lively’ pub against licence review

Bar and creperie blame each other for noise in Hampstead High Street

Thursday, 28th July — By Harry Taylor

kingwillie Jimmy McGrath

Jimmy McGrath at the King William IV

A HAMPSTEAD pub says it is being unfairly targeted after being told by Camden Council its licence will be reviewed following noise complaints and a brawl outside.

The King William IV is being scrutinised by officials at the Town Hall after residents submitted accounts of disturbances from drinkers leaving the pub at closing time.

Licensing officers visited in May after neighbours said it was keeping them awake. Police were called out to the pub in Hampstead High Street twice in 2021.

But problems surfaced in May and June this year, including police being called to a “20-man fight” outside which started after a man allegedly groped a woman at the nearby crepe stall.

Landlord Jimmy McGrath, who has run the pub for six years, said noise problems stem from the creperie on its forecourt, which is run independently of the pub.

“The problem is that you have the creperie that has the queue that stretches up Perrin’s Lane,” he said. “You get people who sit on the front of the art gallery and eat, and leave their mess behind, or whatever else. That’s not our responsibility.”

He added: “We had a meeting with the council earlier this year and we thought it was all resolved. I said I would take any action that needed taking.

“I feel we’re an easy target. We have security on the door on weekends that I am now paying for, [and] we close the doors when there’s live music on.

“Even when the weather’s like it was last week, we get people in from the garden earlier than our licence, and have asked musicians who play here to only play acoustically.”

One complainant had accused the pub of keeping a young family up until 12.30am.


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Another said: “Last Saturday and Sunday night this noise went on for four-and-a half hours on both nights. It seems the pub just doesn’t care how much noise it makes. For many years there was little or no noise and I am confused as to why this has changed.”

Edward de Mesquita, who owns the creperie, said: “[The pub] is very noisy. I have been there myself and it is noisy late at night.”

In response to the claim it was his customers making the noise, he said: “In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies, ‘Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ We close at 11pm or 11.30pm, so we’re not open that late.

“At the end we’re winding down and there’s less people. My member of staff stays there and washes up. It’s not us that’s creating the noise.”

He added: “We don’t have any issue with the pub. We have a good relationship and they do a good job, and the pub’s always busy. But the noise isn’t down to us.”

Edward de Mesquita, left, at the crepe stand

The pub is the last of five that stood on Hampstead High Street, with a pub on the King William IV site since the 18th century. It is known for its Thursday night piano sing-alongs, weekend live music and fundraisers that collect thousands for charities, including one this Saturday for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Mr McGrath, who also runs the Old Eagle in Camden Town and the Alma in Islington, said he had not directly heard from complainants.

“They’ve never been in to talk to me about any problems, and I’d happily do so,” he said.

“We’re a community pub – we raise money for charity, we’re the only pub that provides public toilets in Hampstead because the council doesn’t, and we’re lively – but that’s the beauty of the pub and the people we get in here. It’s different to everywhere else.”

 

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