BY SAM COURTNEY-GUY
One of South London’s best-known landmark pubs – made even more famous by a 1978 Clash song – has changed hands after months of uncertainty which left punters fearing for its future.
JD Wetherspoon only confirmed it had sold The Crown & Sceptre after closing down the property – on the corner of Streatham Hill and the South Circular – on Sunday night, despite widespread rumours it would soon shut for good.
One regular said he had spotted the fruit machines disappearing one by one, and another had seen a skip appear behind the pub one week before.
“The way they have gone about it is all wrong,” said James Thorne, a 53-year-old stone fitter from Stockwell, who has frequented the pub with friends for six years.
“We’re pissed off.” Retired decorator Steve Williams, 81, said he had been travelling to the pub from his Pimlico home for years because of its prices.
He said: “Everyone knows each other here. It would be a shame for it to go.”
The Crown & Sceptre is believed to date back to 1825 and was referenced by The Clash in Stay Free, which featured on their 1978 album Give ’Em Enough Rope.
It is now owned by LT Management, thought to specialise in the temporary management of pubs, which plans to reopen it today.
A spokesman for Wetherspoon said: “On occasion Wetherspoon does sell pubs for commercial reasons and this is the case here.
“No jobs have been lost as a result of the sale as all Wetherspoon staff have been offered jobs with the company’s other pubs in the area.
“We know that our loyal customers and staff will be disappointed with the sale. We appreciate their loyalty and hard work over the years.”
The news comes three months after Wetherspoon closed The Moon Under Water, in Balham High Road, and sold The White Lion of Mortimer in Mitcham to another company.
The Moon Under Water, Balham, was handed back to the landlord on November 16 last year. The White Lion of Mortimer was sublet to an independent operator in the same month.
Campaign for Real Ale member Richard Walker said: “I was meant to be going to a CAMRA meeting to try and get the pub nominated for the 2020 Good Beer Guide with a couple of other members.
“The Crown and Sceptre has sold excellent real ales over the years and it is such a shame that loyal customers were not told the truth.”
A spokesman for LT Management said: ““LT Management Services is pleased to confirm that a client of ours has purchased The Crown & Sceptre in Streatham Hill.
“The pub will reopen its doors this weekend and it will be very much business as usual.
Our key aim is to make this iconic landmark and community resource something that the locals can be really proud of.”