Tenants of one of the smallest and most well-loved pubs in Fitzrovia are appealing for funds from its customers to enable it to re-open when social distancing measures are relaxed and London returns to some sort of normality, whenever that may be.
Bradley’s Spanish Bar, tucked away off Oxford Street in the tiny single-track lane of Hanway Street, has been a drinking den since the late nineteenth-century. The distinctive unlisted-building-of-merit dates from the mid-1860s and the ground and basement rooms became a licensed premises shortly after.
Williams & Humbert, who were importers of sherry, opened a Spanish bar here around 1959. After a series of ownership changes it became known as Bradley’s Bar in the late 1970s. The name was taken from “a former patron, William Bradley, a decorative glass-cutter in Hanway Place, who apparently ran a social club for his employees here”, according to the Survey of London.
The free house has famously been home to a series of rickety, vinyl-playing jukeboxes. “Our current (and as usual, somewhat temperamental) jukebox resident is an NSM Prestige II built sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. We regularly change the music lineup from our eclectic collection of over 20,000 singles,” says their website.
The pub was a stop on the Fitzrovia News Pub Crawl organised by the late, great Mike Pentelow.
For the past 22 years it has been run by Absolutely Barking Limited who pride themselves on being caretakers of an institution where time stands still while all around it seems to be changing by the week.
“Like so many independent places, we’re really struggling to find the funds to open again once this whole situation is over,” says Jan De Vries the bar manager.
“We do appreciate it that lives are more important and fully understand that it’s an absolute necessity to stay closed as long as needed. But we still hope that when this eventually finishes, we’ll be able to continue to be the favourite watering hole of lots of locals, shoppers, tourists, creative minds and everything in between,” he says.
To help them get up an running again they are crowdfunding and hoping to raise £20,000 “in order to get us through this horrible period” says De Vries.
In return for helping the campaign the “there will be quite a few parties once we’re up and running again and you’ll all be invited to join us”, they say.
So far the campaign has successfully raised half the target in less than a week.
Crowdfunder: Keep Bradley’s Spanish Bar alive.