The Great Fire Of Camden: Hawley Smoke

Amid much OMGing from news sites’ comments forums, the full extent of the devastation visited upon NW1 on Saturday night hit home.

Confusion amongst some news organisations was the only light relief from seeing a well-known part of Camden engulfed in flames. On BBC News 24 the newscaster referred to the Hawley Arms as a “nightclub”. No, it’s a pub. Here’s the evidence:

The Hawley Arms

Better still were the names of celebrities listed as regular clientele. Heard of “Neil Fielding” or “Neil Gallagher”? Me neither.

So yes, along with just about everyone from London who has anything to do with music, I’ve of course been to the Hawley too many times to count. Yes, the beehive was there more often than not, sat on her own, eating lunch and not being interrupted. I’ve interviewed artistes there (on one occasion the beehive interrupted proceedings) too – the upstairs area being popular for such activities during daytime.

Despite the pub’s reputation in mainstream news media as some fantastical glittering nirvana for “troubled” singers, it really was just a decent boozer. Probably a tad passé for some of the more trendoid tendencies of this world now, but it had charm, especially in the afternoons when it wasn’t too packed.

The people behind the Hawley had only a couple of weeks ago launched their second pub, Clerkenwell’s Wilmington Arms, which has a gig space, and a small record label, which had just released its first single.

They’re sure to recover from this, as are the Canal market traders whose livelihoods are also threatened by the inferno of 9th February. There will be a rallying round. And some time soon, when the refurbishments are complete, the Hawley will have an excellent excuse for a big relaunch party. Hell, they might even attract some slebs along. Here’s hoping it’s not too long before we can toast the Hawley’s reincarnation. And maybe it should consider a name change to herald its new era. The Phoenix, perhaps?

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