Famous Music Pub Faces Uncertain Future

The Publican confirms fears that the Half Moon, Putney, could become a gastropub after current tenant leaves

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One of London's most famous live music pubs faces an uncertain future as a gig venue and could become a gastropub.

The Half Moon, in Putney, South London , has hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, U2, Small Faces, Kate Bush and Kasabian.

But current tenant James Harris is set to leave the pub in January and fears for its future as a music venue. Harris, who has been at the pub for 10 years, has run into debt with owners Young's, after falling behind on payments for beer.

He owes Young's more than £100,000, according to the company. Harris told The Publican:
“The last year has been difficult. We are 20 per cent down on bar sales and have got into debt with Young's. The recession and the smoking ban have not helped.”

Harris also blames major hikes in rent for his financial difficulties. He is resigned to losing the iconic pub, but is determined it remains as a music venue, having heard that Young's wants to convert it into a gastropub.

“I'm very passionate about music and we are desperately trying to make Young's change their mind and keep it as a music pub,” said Harris. “Putney does not need somewhere else to eat.”

But there could still be hope for the Half Moon as a gig venue – with plenty of backers already voicing their support. BBC radio DJs Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie and Bob Harris are also believed to have pledged their support. And Putney MP Justine Greening and Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister have also spoken out.

A spokesman for Young's said:
“Young's has worked extensively with Mr Harris over the past 24 months to help him manage his debts and business more effectively.
We have spent considerable time advising him on everything from how to reduce operating costs through to offering him sizable discounts on beer and suggestions on how to increase his custom.

“We have also invested significantly in the pub during this period. Sadly, Mr Harris has allowed his financial position to worsen to the extent that he now owes us over £100,000. Despite this, we have worked hard to maintain an open and constructive dialogue with him on how best to remedy this situation.”

It is understood that no decision has been made by Young's on the future of the pub as a music venue.

For more information visit: www.halfmoon.co.uk

James Wilmore
Deputy New Editor - The Publican

November 30, 2009