Eater has learnt that the Newman Arms pub in Fitzrovia, which for the past year has been under significant refurbishment, has been acquired by the Black Eagle Brewery — the company which runs the Truman Brewery’s Eyrie in Hackney Wick, in east London. (Truman takes its name from the brewery that once operated — and which is now a multi-use venue — on Brick Lane, in Shoreditch.)
A notice posted to the window of the pub says that Black Eagle Brewery has applied to vary the premises license and refigure the space inside.
The storied venue — which always had above the bar a weirdly low-res framed photograph of the writer, George Orwell after he allegedly based the “proles pub,” in his most famous work, 1984, on the Newman Arms.
For many years, the Newman Arms was the chosen venue for Fitzrovia’s actors agents, BBC staff and advertising executives as well as being known internationally for its upstairs pie room. It was among only a small number of authentically old-school drinking dens in the centre of the city.
In 2015, it closed and reopened under the management of the pub group which runs the Three Crowns in Stoke Newington and the Adam and Eve in Homerton. They instated Cornish entrepreneur and former meat and seafood delivery man Matt Chatfield’s Cornwall Project — an initiative which wanted to showcase the best beef, fish and vegetables from the English south west in the upstairs dining room of an old pub. It sort of worked. The critics loved it but the lack of a proper lunch trade meant it folded at the end of 2016. The building has been under renovation by the landlord Shaftesbury ever since.
Truman’s meanwhile, is a little older. It was originally founded in 1666 when Brick Lane was “just a track flanked by fields,” the history section of its website says. For a short spell in the 1800s, it was the biggest brewery in the world, sending imperial stout to the Russian court and IPA to India. “It remained resolutely independent until succumbing to the merger mania of the 1980s,” before in 1989 the brewery and pubs were sold when Truman’s closed.
In 2010, the Truman’s brand was re-established by two local beer enthusiasts, James Morgan and Michael-George Hemus. It was this that precipitated the opening of the Eyrie in Hackney Wick in 2013. They say that although it may not be anything like the size of the Brick Lane original, they “hope it will be just as loved.”
Entering into the Newman Arms is a smart next move, if even the site’s shoes are big ones to fill.