The Talbot Episode IV: A New Hope

Following the fortunes of The Talbot and its will-they / won't-they renovation saga has left Brockley Central as emotionally drained as when it last watched When Harry Met Sally.

Just when the hour seemed darkest, we got an update from James, at the Honor Oak pub - the management team that hopes to take over the running of the Talbot and a link to a new website for the pub, so it must be happening, right?!

The owners of The Honor Oak pub on St. German's Road in Forest Hill are currently working to secure The Talbot on Tyrwhitt Road in Brockley from Punch Taverns.

'The plan' is to close the pub in 2008 for complete refurbishment, relaunching it as a modern, local pub, serving good, fresh food by the end of the year.

Although a lot of work has already been done on the project, The Talbot has proved itself in recent years as a building with a lot of potential, but a difficult site to transform both structurally and financially. We realise that local residents have been promised great things for The Talbot, and we hope that we are now close to being able to deliver them.

Thanks to James for keeping an anxious community informed.


Anonymous said...

Yippee! We're back on track. Everyone welcome them in at the beginning of April by going for the first of many drinks I say! I live in sandrock rd so this is a dream come true! Finally - progress!

Brockley Nick said...

Can't wait to have a BC Drinks there...

tyrwhitt michael said...

BC drinks in the local I have been using for 20 years would seem rather sureal ....almost as much as it getting a lick of paint or two!

Brockley Nick said...

@TM - are you feeling a bit more optimistic now though?!

tyrwhitt michael said...

I've just go used to walking round to the Wickham ......still I'll need to do that when the Talbot's shut for refurbishment.

I was told the new management are going to keep it open in its current "lived in" state for a couple of months before starting on work. No doubt Jamie will update us in due course.

As for local input do the same as the Honor Oak and it won't be far wrong from my point of view.

Anyway as the old saying goes I believe it when I see it!

tyrwhitt michael said...

got used to.....of course

Amanda said...

This is good news, I've not been inside the Talbot, it looks pretty on the outside though...

JPM said...

I tried to get a friend to buy it a while back but the brewery wouldn't sell. We were fortunate enough to be shown around the whole place - and it was dreadful. The new business certainly has its work cut out for it. What advice would I offer? Gut the interior. Change the name. Don't copy the Honor Oak exactly. Don't have a TV or gambling machines. Then watch the punters flood in.

tyrwhitt michael said...

I would like to see the name kept for sentimental reasons if nothing else.

Judging by the shiny new logo on the website I suspect it may remain as The Talbot.

Similar but different to the Honor Oak sounds OK by me. I would personally get rid of the televisions but you would loose some of the current customers.... but everything has its pros and cons.

In any event I will go in there tonight and raise a glass to Jamie and his partners and wish them every success with their venture.

My proof reading has gone west, it also should have read "I'll believe it when I see it!"... earlier.

Headhunter said...

I think we'll be lucky to get away without TVs - pubs in an area like Brockers is going to attract customers on big sports days with a big screen TV

James Heaton said...

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your comments and to those of you who have emailed me directly.

Picking up on a few things here...

- Yes it will run 'as is' through the summer - I will have an idea of dates for works in due course.

- The name will be staying and those of you who have been to the mailing list signup page have indeed seen the first preview of the new branding.

- The interior will pretty much be 'gutted', although due to the nature in which the buildings have been knocked together, the configuration will stay more-or-less the same.

- TVs and fruit machines will by and large disappear. We may keep one screen or a projector just for the purposes of big internationals etc, but we will no longer have Sky Sports and the TV will be on occasionally, not as a rolling backdrop. To be honest, although we all like to go to the pub to watch the football, TVs don't really work as a full-time fixture in the sort of place we're planning to turn The Talbot into. I hope no one will be too disappointed about this.

I have signed another bit of paper with Punch this morning authorising our solicitors to proceed with the initial arrangements. We expect to be in control of the site, as exists, from 28th March.

I will be giving more details about the longer term plans to brockleynick as soon as the interim tenancy agreement is signed.

Thanks and best wishes,

James Heaton

fabhat said...

dear James,

It's great to know that it's all going to finally happen - but please don't be too hasty to rip everything out and make it all super shiny.
The nicest of the local refurbed pubs to my mind are the amersham and royal albert. They work so well because they still feel lived in, but refreshed and the nice bits of pub architecture live on, while the nasty bits (carpets and tobacco coloured ceilings) disappear and a totally new bar menu and drinks list gives it the wow factor. I found the Honour Oak, a little souless when I visited...but am looking forward to testing out the Talbot - and I love the new logo.

James Heaton said...

Hi fabhat,

Anything in there worth keeping will be kept, not least as we can't afford to rip anything out that we don't have to! But in truth The Talbot doesn't have much in the way of nice mouldings, back bar and tiling like The Albert, or the wood panelling of The Amersham. But we will do our best.

The Honor Oak really didn't have anything to preserve. People never believe me when I say this, but anything decent like the fireplaces had been ripped out and stolen by the previous incumbent, and the bar area - well they're the same walls now, but we had to decorate over the stained lime green gloss paint!

Anyway, as I say point noted and we'll do our best.


fabhat said...

What a speedy response! Thanks for that James - and as I said I'm really looking forward to testing the talbot out. It's true both the pubs I mentioned had some good bones to start with, so perhaps that was unfair (esp after what you told me about the Honour Oak)
Here's to a reborn Talbot!

nonie said...

James - i'll just echo fabhat re: the danger of going 'souless'. i can appreciate that there aren't many hidden architectural treasures in the likes of the Honor Oak or the Talbot; but I would argue that, in this case, it'll be as much about what you put in, as what you take out. I'm really glad that you're doing up the pub, its great for the area. But, I have to confess I was disappointed when the dulwich guys pulled out. i love the feel they've got in their pubs -- maybe i'm naive, but i don't think it came out of a catalogue. (honor oak looks a bit like it might've). Best of luck with this project, after the disappointment of the non-refurb of the Wickham, I know I'll be a frequent visitor at the talbot, and i do admire your tenacity in taking it on.

Richard said...

Not that I'd know (yet), but I guess the most difficult part of opening a second pub/bar is making it sufficiently different from your first, which you would have designed as near as possible yo your own ideal of the perfect pub.

I think the Talbot is an ideal spot for a beautiful new pub, keep the ideals behind the Honor Oak, but make the Talbot its own pub - with character and a lived-in feel it will soon become the 'local' of plenty of Brockleyites

James Heaton said...

In a way, you're right, but for us it was more a case of getting as close as possible to what we consider to be our 'ideal pub' for that particular area.

As it happens, there was already a scheme on the table for THO when we took it on, which I can only describe as generic Wetherspoons (blue and yellow patterned carpet, multicoloured stools, lots of TVs and fruit machines) and we obviously ripped it up and went with something nearer to what we thought it should be. I actually did the bulk of the interior myself - but I can understand the less positive comments about it.

All I can say in my defense is that I had little experience then, and only a fortnight in which to do it from scratch as the building work was already scheduled to start.

The Talbot won't be completely different to The Honor Oak, but it will be its own pub. On one hand it's a chance to do some of what we did here better - on the other it's a completely different place which will have its own regulars and its own offer inside, and I would personally be really hacked off if I thought it didn't have its own identity.

None of us have any interest in running a chain pub. Pubs should be personal to the people that use them - and whatever else we should have done differently I do actually think that for a lot of people, The Honor Oak is.

Anyway, there's plenty of time before anything changes at The Talbot, and you will all have the opportunity to see and comment upon some of what's planned long before the doors are locked and the carpet's pulled up.

JPM said...

All the best with the new venture, James Heaton. It's really refreshing to have someone consult with us, who hasn't got his mind set on doing only what he wants doing. Having said that, it's obvious that you must get on with what you feel you must - and many will fall into line behind you. Good luck!

nonie said...

my earlier comment reads more negatively than intended.. In any case the honor oak's success speaks for itself. And for James, I guess. I have every confidence in it and i'm glad the fruit machines will go.

Anonymous said...

James I have every confidence that you'll do a cracking job and that The Talbot will the most popular pub in the area. I can't wait to start drinking and eating there - and will start coming in from 28 March to show my support for the shape of things to come. People are always quick to criticise (especially when they don't know how hard it is / the reasoning behind your decisions). I could kiss you for taking on The Talbot! Someone had to do it soon - it was getting ridiculous! It will really enrich my experience of living in the area - I walk past a sorry, neglected but beautiful building on the way to work each day - and I can't wait to see it come to life! Good on you for doing this - and I know you certainly won't regret it! Kirsty

James Heaton said...

I think *my* earlier comment reads more defensively than was intended!

The best thing that happened to us with The Honor Oak was getting loads of different people telling us what they did and didn't like or want, and the best way to do that is to compare to other pubs that we know or can go and see as a reference point.

So any "don't likes" at The Honor Oak are welcome - no offence is taken - and we'll do our best to do as many of the things you do want in The Talbot as possible.

That said, Kirsty I will be printing your comment off and pinning it up on the office wall ready for when I start arguing with builders and running out of money!

Anonymous said...

James - sounds great, and will definitely fill a gap in the local market.

As a Young(ish) Fogey, the only other thing that would put me off is loud music that requires you to shout to whoever you are talking to. What will be the policy on music?

All the very best with the project.

james heaton said...

Well, the policy is basically that there will be music playing pretty-much all the time, but it shouldn't be too loud as to drown people out or too quiet as to make people strain to listen to it.

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