Speaking exclusively to Roman Road LDN, Rob Star confirms the rumours that the Lord Napier Star will be opening its doors Hackney Wick.
Twenty-six years after the last (legal) pint was poured at the Lord Napier pub in Hackney Wick, the famous ‘Shithouse to Penthouse’ building will reopen as the Lord Napier Star, part of Rob Star’s Electric Pubs group.
Hosting the city’s best DJs who ‘might not usually play pubs,’ showing the football on Sundays, and serving street food from a rotation of local vendors, Star plans for this to be a ‘proper community pub’ with an East London edge.
While Hackney Wick has multiple cool options for drinking and eating – from zero-waste restaurant Silo to Barge East floating on the other side of the canal – the Lord Napier Star will be the area’s first and only pub.
After securing an agreement with the landlord back in 2016, renovations began in January 2020. The pandemic delayed plans by a few months, but Star is feeling confident that work is on track for opening in early July.
A large open plan space will take up the ground floor, with a central bar accessible by customers from three sides, a DJ booth and seated booths. On the second floor will be a second bar and DJ booth as well as a bookable room open for private parties, and on the third; a roof terrace.
Star has worked with local architects, builders, designers, painters, and artists throughout, including carpenters based in Hackney Wick. Plants will be supplied by indie plant shop Repot based in Hackney Wick Underground.
A resident of Hackney Wick himself for the past six years, the Lord Napier Star will be Star’s own local. He has fond memories of joining squat raves in the pub during the 2000’s, when you could get a vodka coke in a plastic cup, and always dreamed of hosting his own events inside.
Star plans for this to be a ‘real community pub’, saying; ‘the pub should be a focal point of the community, and I’m a firm believer that it’s the people that make the pub.’ But, he says, you ‘can’t be all things to people at all times.’
A nightclub standard sound system is to be installed, and the venue has a license to open until midnight during the week and 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
There will be at least ‘one reasonably priced mainstream lager’ on offer, as well as an ever-changing menu of street food cooked by local chefs.
This will be Electric Star Pubs’ eighth venture, with their first being the Star of Bethnal Green. However, Star wouldn’t describe these as ‘chain pubs’ saying ‘all of our venues are different because the areas all of our pubs are in are very different with very different demographics.’
So, the golden question; will the graffitied exterior be preserved?
‘We want it to be a piece of art that’s constantly evolving’ says Star, who plans to give the reins to select local graffiti artists to make what they will of the pubs’ exterior.
The present exterior of the building is largely the result of a 48 hour takeover by a team of 29 local street artists in July 2016, commissioned by artist Aida Wilde. Featuring works from Hackney Wick artists including Sweet Toof, Mighty Mo, Mobstr, Dscreet, Malarky, Donk, Static, Sony, Xenz, Charice, Stik, and Done, Wilde wanted to commemorate the times of free expression.
In response to the furore surrounding the much-loved iconic exterior, Wilde says ‘it was never about money or using it to promote and attract people to make money of. I never envisaged that some of the original artwork would still exist therefore I have expressed to its new proprietor that the existing artworks should be removed and that his new curator to find appropriate new replacements.’
Teddy Baden and his team, who were part of the 2016 street artist takeover, are to be given the reins in creating new artwork on the Lord Napier Star. Star also hopes to keep some of the traditional green tiles that are typically found on old boozers, but ‘they might be too destroyed.’
And what about the iconic ‘Shithouse to penthouse’ slogan? As it stands, its fate is undecided.
Read more about the Lord Napier’s 150 year history, from boozer to rave squat to artist mecca.
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