Soap star Michelle Collins tells of fears for future of ‘genuine Camden landmark' Black Cap pub

Thursday, 17th May 2012

Actor Michelle Collins has joined the campaign against plans to convert an upper section of the Black Cap pub into flats

Published: 17 May, 2012

SHE has pulled pints behind the bars at the two most famous telly boozers in Britain – and now soap star Michelle Collins of Coronation Street and EastEnders fame is joining the fight to save one of Camden Town’s most famous pubs.

The actor has waded into the row over whether the owners of the Black Cap in Camden High Street should be allowed to close their popular upstairs bar and terrace and replace it with three flats.

Regulars say the plans will be the death knell for the venue which has served the gay community for more than 60 years.

Ms Collins told the New Journal: “I’ve been to the Black Cap over the years with friends and have had so many good times there.

“I am aware of just how important it is for both gay and straight people.

"It is a genuine landmark in Camden Town, a wonderful pub with a wonderful history.

"It is the sort of place we should protect and cherish, not let short-term business interests ruin it for future generations.”

Ms Collins, who played Cindy Beale and served drinks at Albert Square’s Queen Vic, and then headed north to work at Coronation Street’s Rovers Return as Stella the barmaid, added:

“I believe this plan to get rid of the lovely upstairs bar and terrace would damage the Cap, rob its regulars of a vital, safe and friendly space, and would ultimately put its future in doubt.

“I hope Camden’s planning committee realise just how important the Cap is to so many people, and that any scheme which would put its future in doubt must be strongly opposed.”

The plans for the Black Cap would mean no more terrace bar, but they also show a new bar, new seating, new toilets and a larger stage for the Cap’s famous cabaret artists downstairs.

At a meeting last week at the Cap, owners Faucett Inns met customers to show off designs for the revamped premises.

But despite promising a six-figure investment, and saying work was vital to ensure fire regulations were met, regulars were not persuaded the proposals would give the pub a new lease of life.

Priest, author and regular Bernard Lynch has been drinking at the Black Cap for more than two decades.

He said: “I had a sense that the owners have made up their minds as to what the future of the Cap is.

“The bottom line is they want to make some money and I do not dispute that they have to run a business – but we worry at what cost.”

Regular Terence Bevington added: “The Black Cap is a unique and important amenity for the lesbian and gay community.

"As a gay man, it is vital for me to have access to a social space where I can feel safe to be myself.

“For people such as me, who have no interest in the ‘gay scene’ venues, the Cap is a true refuge.”

Faucett Inns managing director Stephen Cox presented the plans to regulars and said the scheme would allow for a serious upgrade of facilities in the downstairs bar.

He said: “We want to bring this space into the 21st century.

"We want to bring it up to date and make it a great place to come to during the day as well as at night.”

He added that the company would not be investing a large figure in modernising the pub if it was not committed to safeguarding its future.

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