Ade Clarke: landlord at The Lamb Beer & Liquor

13 May

Everyone has a story. The golden days of pubs may be over but Islington is lucky – some of the new landlords, like Ade Clarke at The Lamb Beer & Liquor know how to mix music, real ale and people to create pubs that make you feel just like a local. Interview by Nicola Baird

Adrian Clarke: former money man at book and actor agency A P Watt, then Blake Friedmann, has been pub landlord at The Lamb Beer and Liquor since November 2014. “I loved our Christmas singsong around the piano. Someone brought a guitar, another got the whole pub singing those cheesy songs. We’ll do something similar in the summer. We have about seven people working here. It’s a few hours on your feet but the time goes… I enjoy chatting and we all want people to feel very welcome.”

Ade Clarke: former money man at book and TV agency A P Watt, then Blake Friedmann, has been pub landlord at The Lamb Beer & Liquor since November 2014. “I loved our Christmas singsong around the piano. Someone brought a guitar, another got the whole pub singing those cheesy songs. We’ll do something similar in the summer. We have about seven people working here. It’s a few hours on your feet but the time goes… I enjoy chatting and we all want people to feel very welcome.”

“I love being behind the bar. This pub has got a great feel – it’s a shabby boozer but wears its history well. By history, I don’t mean Charles I ordered a flagon of Camden Hells lager here in 1631, I mean that for 150 years people have come through those doors and had a good night out. That’s a precious thing.” Ade Clarke, pub landlord of The Lamb Beer & Liquor since  November 2014, loves history so much that he qualified as an Clerkenwell and Islington guide* four years ago.

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Turns out that Ade, 53, who grew up in Hatfield, has been driving past his pub since childhood. “I’ve always known the Holloway Road well because it’s the A1 and we always came along it when we came into London or drove home.”

Ade and his business partner Rosamund Watson (whose CV includes experience at Moro and the Quality Chop House) moved to London in the early ‘80s. He studied at City of London Poly and Roz at the London College of Fashion. Now their shared love of “music and dressing interestingly”, as Ade in his fake leopard print cap puts it, has led them to become pub landlords skilled at creating an atmosphere of “shabby, magical, cosiness”.

Already The Lamb Beer & Liquor is attracting a local following with its candlelit piano in the corner, dark wall panels, comfy banquettes in the bar and a great stock of London beers including Camden Town Brewery, London Fields Brewery, Hackney Brewery and N7’s own Hammerton Brewery often delivered by brew master Lee Hammerton himself. There’s also a growing calendar of events including fiendish Monday night quizzes – set by Pete, Irish music on Tuesdays and Sundays. http://www.hammertonbrewery.co.uk/

The Lamb Beer & Liquor looking towards the bar. The pub has been a Holloway Road local since XX. (c) Ade Clarke

The Lamb Beer & Liquor looking towards the bar. The pub has been a Holloway Road local since the 1870s. (c) Ade Clarke

Places pub landlord Ade Clarke likes in Islington
“Despite all my years in London if I get past Marble Arch ‘there be monsters’. Roz (my business partner) and I looked for three or four years until we found the Lamb Beer & Liquor. So apart from our pub I like:

  • Holloway Road has something of a rock and roll history and the music we play reflects that. 1960s record producer Joe Meek (of Telstar fame) had his studio down the road, The Lord Nelson pub (now The Horatia) was an important venue during the 1970s in the days of pub rock, and I’ve seen a bizarre photo from 1970 of John Lennon and Yoko Ono standing on the roof of what is now The Wig and Gown bar*.”
  • Central Fish Bar, 149-155 Central Street, south of City Road in St Luke’s is a great place. It started as a fish and chip shop but now it’s a fish restaurant with a real mix of diners.
  • Hope Workers Café, 111 Holloway Road is a really old school London caff. The food is homemade and reasonably priced (tea is 80p). And I love the lettering, so 1940s.
  • Shakespeare’s Head, 1 Arlington Way, next to Sadler’s Wells looks like a 1960s estate pub but has a bell for when the interval ends, and sometimes fills up with dancers. I’ve had some good times there.
  • It’s great to see the 12 Bar Club from Denmark Street finding a new home at 203 Holloway Road.
  • For a posh dinner it’s hard to beat The Almeida, 30 Almeida Street. I had a little party for my Mum’s 90th birthday there, a few weeks ago, and the food and staff were lovely.

Music pub
“Music is important. The Irish sessions are a nod to Holloway Road’s Irish heritage. We have regular bluegrass sessions too. Our manager Martin Thompson is in an indie band called The Fire Stations. Our playlists are interesting it could be anything from 1920s tea dance to 2015 indie sounds,” adds Ade.

Landlord Adrian Clarke: “The Lamb Beer & Liquor is a bohemian place. We’re not a football pub with screens but if you are an Arsenal fan and you come up the side of the road from Highbury we’re the first pub you find. Match days are really busy: lots of guys come in here before the match for a pint.”

Landlord Ade Clarke: “The Lamb Beer & Liquor is a bohemian place. We’re not a football pub with screens but if you are an Arsenal fan and you come up the side of the road from Highbury we’re the first pub you find. Match days are really busy: lots of guys come in here before the match for a pint.”

Pub with a history
Since the late 19th century 54 Holloway Road’s wooden interior, and green tiled exterior, has been tempting Holloway Road drinkers. Adrian thinks his pub was originally a beer house called The Lamb. “It’s a traditional pub name, and Holloway Road was once a droving route, or perhaps even a pilgrimage route,” he says. Holloway locals may also remember The Lamb as Barcosa and also Tank when it boasted an iguana and anaconda cage. Or what about the Flounder & Firkin stage during which port holes were made in the wooden floor that allows drinkers to watch brewing in the cellar?

“We think that the pub dates from the 1870s and it was known as The Highbury Brewery Tap up until 1985. The Highbury Brewery was established in Holloway Road in 1815 and was operational for 100 years,” explains Adrian. It’s clear he’s a real fan of Islington through the years.

When you’re open from 4pm-midnight week days and until half past midnight on Fridays and Saturdays there’s a lot to be said for making your daily commute a bit shorter. “My missus, Anji, and I are going to move here in the new year,” he says. “I like Holloway Road and the diversity in Islington – and I feel like I’m the oldest person in Spitalfields sometimes. It’s time to move on.”

Bohemian rhapsody
“It’s been a steep learning curve – helped by Martin who was the manager here for three years. But I enjoy chatting to customers and I love the way more and more people come in on their own because they know they’ll know someone in here. That’s why the pub tends to fill up as the evening goes on,” adds Adrian.

Holloway Road pubs are enjoying a renaissance. But even with these new improved local boozers Ade and Rosamund’s The Lamb Beer & Liquor stands out as a friendly pub, with a great selection of real ale and wine, run by two landlords who have lots of ideas – from history talks and art curation of the old iguana tank to live music nights – that they’d like you to share. See you there: I’ll have a half!

Words*
Clerkenwell & Islington Guides Association  – courses are held at the University of Westminster, and applications for 2015-16 will be accepted from 1 June 2015, see info here.

Read about the Wig & Gown’s links to Michael X and the Black House of Holloway Road on this blog.

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

If you liked this interview please SHARE on twitter or Facebook or join the Facebook group. Even better follow islingtonfacesblog.com (see menu top right) or follow me on twitter @nicolabairduk

This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola

 

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