The Black Cap
Published: 18 January, 2017
By DAN CARRIER
THE famous Black Cap – which has been empty in Camden Town for nearly two years – could reopen as a gay pub sharing its space with a theatre company.
The bar was shut in April 2015 by pub group Faucet Inn, which had failed in a bid to turn upper floors into flats. It remains closed as the firm waits to hear from Camden Council about the type of business allowed there under planning laws.
But the New Journal has learned that an unnamed theatre company is considering a tenancy deal which would see the Black Cap reopen as an LGBT venue, retaining its famous ground-floor cabaret bar while providing a rehearsal studio space during the day.
The venue hosted Hinge and Bracket and Lily Savage, and had a reputation across the capital as one of London’s top LGBT nightspots.
EastEnders actress Michelle Collins, who has joined the We Are Black Cap campaign group set up to lobby the owners to reopen the pub, has welcomed the project.
“I spent many a night there,” she said. “I’d love to see it reopened as a space to help young drama students. It would bring it back to life and be a fantastic idea.”
Ms Collins knows NW1 well as she used to perform at nearby Dingwalls as a singer – she backed Kid Creole and the Coconuts at the venue – and worked on stalls in Camden market.
She added: “It would be a terrible shame if it wasn’t to reopen. It is a truly iconic place, part of the very fabric of the area, a crucial venue.
“It was always busy and I just don’t understand how a pub company couldn’t simply keep it open and make money from it. It strikes me that they perhaps do not realise they are just guardians of a place for a short time. That it’s not theirs to close.”
Black Cap owner Steve Cox, of Faucet Inn, is waiting for Camden Council to clarify the type of usage the building has.
He said: “We are still waiting for determination on this. We are trying to work with the council and We Are Black Cap.
“We want the business to open again in a form that works for all parties. As long as it remains closed it is a stain on the high street for everyone.”
He added that, if a theatre group approached, he would happily listen to any new plans.
“We’d look at all and any proposals,” he said. Chris Clark, of We Are Black Cap, is drawing up a business plan showing how profitable the venue can be.
“It is logical to consider how the pub will be used throughout the day, how it works as a safe space for all,” he said.
“We are interested in hearing all suggestions for how the different spaces can be used.”
Plans to turn the building into a diner run by The Breakfast Club independent chain and a bar called Hollenbeck’s have collapsed since the pub closed.