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One of London’s Greatest Neighbourhood Pubs Survives Closure Threat

A licensing review will not force beloved Islington boozer the Compton Arms to close

The exterior of a pub, with a lamppost next to it, and the words The Compton Arms written in capital letters on the outside. The paintwork is yellow
The pub in situ on Compton Street in N1.
Ewan Munro/Flickr

Drinkers that feared for the future of one of London’s greatest neighbourhood pubs can raise a glass tonight, after a licensing review secured the future of the Compton Arms in Islington.

When a small group of local residents submitted the review in September, landlord Nick Stephens said that if changes to the license were to be stringent, “this famous, historic Pub will no longer be financially viable for us.” Following a hearing at Islington Council on 12 October, there will be changes — but the pub will continue to operate as normal. The sought-after back garden will be seating only, and numbers in front of the pub will be limited to 20 at a time; although the complainants also sought to have the garden shut at 8 p.m., that will not happen.

The Compton Arms fulfils many local functions: it’s an Arsenal checkpoint — more boisterously happy this season, than in most of the last decade — as well as an N1 hangout and an incubator for exciting chef residencies. It’s also more widely renowned as one of the inspirations for writer George Orwell’s idealised pub, put to paper in the 1946 essay, ‘The Moon Under Water.’ To the relief of all who drink in it, it will continue to fulfil all those duties for many more years to come.

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