When visiting Kilburn I had no idea we were going to stumble into a venue at the front line of the battle between individual pubs and large pubcos that currently dominate the industry. Kilburn Station first opened as Kilburn and Brondesbury Station on 24th November 1879 on the Metropolitan Railway. It was transferred over to the Bakerloo Line in 1939 and then, along with the entire Stanmore branch, over to the new Jubilee Line in 1979.
The station itself is placed on a viaduct over Kilburn High Road itself. The viaduct itself has ‘Metropolitan Railway’ inscribed on it. Also just as you exit the station, there is a rather interesting mural on the wall opposite the station.
The rain was coming down hard as we ventured down Kilburn High Road. Our original recommendation of The Ship was charging entry as a band was on, so we kept going a little further, past Kilburn Rail Station, to reach The Black Lion. This is both a pub and B&B, so various people were claiming their pillows and bedding from the reception desk just away from the bar.
The Pub: The Black Lion, 274 Kilburn High Road, NW6 2BY
The Black Lion has a very lavish interior with particularly striking designs on the ceilings and walls. There are plenty of comfy sofas and an assorted collection of old books by the windows. The clientele was a mix of people popping in for a drink and tourists staying there, complete with maps to plot their sightseeing.
Now for the serious bit…
When getting our drinks, I noticed no beer was on tap. The fridge was however stocked with plenty of good ales, so I went for a Wainwright. The windows of the pub had posters up for ‘fair deal for your local’ – reminding me of an article I’d read earlier that week about a pub that had taken all draught beer off as a protest against the charges pub companies apply to pubs to buy their beer. It turns out the pub in question was The Black Lion. This is a very live issue at the moment, major groups such as CAMRA are strongly against the ‘beer tie’ and related practices.
I am very sympathetic to this cause and the pressure it puts on pubs. One of my favourite pubs in South London(Sun and Doves, Camberwell) closed in the summer of 2011 thanks to problems with their pubco landlord. There has been major pressure on the Government recently in this area, forcing them to launch a consultation following some excellent work from Shadow Pubs Minister, Toby Perkins. For more details, check out the campaign website ‘fair deal for your local’.
I wish the Black Lion every success in their battle against anti-competitive practices which threaten pubs not just across London, but right across the UK.