Update: Feb 2021
It’s sad, but true that two years after Crossrail caused so much damage to our property, we are still undergoing repairs. They took a whole year to accept liability. We proved to them over and over again that they were the only people anywhere near our vault, but they flatly denied it for a full year.
If that wasn’t enough to deal with, we discovered they had been warned NOT to work near our vault in the first place. But apparently they are ok about disregarding the advice of structural engineers and risk registers, putting people at risk, and going on in there with no regard for ours or public safety. That’s nice isn’t it?
If this wasn’t enough, they went on and damaged our property for a second time last July, mindlessly drilling into our barrel drop, which, had we not told them to stop, they’d have ended crashing through our kitchen ceiling. This has still not been properly repaired after 6 months of waiting and one attempt to fix it totally failed.
The past 2 years for us as a business has been hell. For us personally, it’s a waking nightmare that never ends. These large companies couldn’t give two hoots about the local businesses they destroy or the impact they have on people’s lives. It’s easy to blame ‘big corporations’ for wrong doings, but these companies are run by individuals, who make the decisions that threaten the livelihood and future of small family businesses like us.
Progress update September 2020
Sadly we are still closed. Work is progressing nicely. Watch this space for news. We won’t lie, its been a nightmare year but at least our online shop is open for your gin related bits and bobs!
Progress update September 1st 2019
The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that two holes were dug in the street outside the bar last month. At last some action by Crossrail to investigate what exactly has been done to the road to cause us so much grief and deprive you of gin!
The good news is that we now have the green light for the road to be dug up so, so fingers crossed these critical works will start soon. We are as shocked and stunned as you must be about the time this is taking… We are very Cross about this, but we won’t be de-railed. Hopefully the light is at the end of the tunnel and things will be back on track soon.
Progress update July 1st
You may have noticed that our gin cellar has been closed since February this year, and the bar has been closed since April. We haven’t said much about it up to now, here is an update.
Road works outside the bar by Crossrail caused structural damage to our basement and we now have something of an unwanted water feature – even Charlie Dimmock would be impressed. So where are we now? Getting this fixed was always ‘out of our hands’. It was initially thought the repairs would be straight forward and take a month so we closed in April with high hopes we’d have a month of disruption at most. Sadly this wasn’t the case. The damage was much more extensive than originally apparent and the road may need to be dug up so our vault can be fixed properly (eek!).
We’re frustrated, you’re frustrated, but we promise we’re doing everything we can to push things forward, if we had a pick and a shovel we would do the repairs ourselves but we can’t.
In the meantime here are some snippets about our wonderful basement, which dates back to the 1700s!
About the basement
Maps show there’s been a building on this site since the 1720s, however the building you see now is at least it’s second and possibly it’s third incarnation. It was rebuilt in 1824, and possibly altered again in the late 1800’s however the original basement vaults remain.
The first mention of the streets are in Westminster Rate books. Chappell Street ( as it was called then) appears in 1696, the first mention of Hollen Street and Great Chapel Street (our corner) is 1717. We are sure a building was here then, but buildings did not have numbers until the 1850’s, they were referred to by the occupiers name. The first reference to the property as a public house comes from insurance records, in 1785 Richard Beall is insured as a victualler at The George, Great Chapel Street, Soho.
The first real details of what the original premises were like come from the Morning Advertiser 1809 which is advertising the lease for sale which indicate the cellars were originally build as wine vaults: “A free public house and vine vault near oxford st with immediate possession. An old established house known by the sign of the George most advantageously situate the corner of hollen street in great chapel street.”
The next full description we have been able to find dates from 1824 Morning Advertiser where the lease is again up for sale but the premiese have clearly been rebuilt, probably because most of the first Georgian buildings in Soho were put up quickly and cheaply by builders on relatively short leases and so were not built to last. “A valuable public house and wine vaults known as the George situate in Great Chapel St, Oxford st, the corner of Hollen street, soho. The house is newly build in the most substantial manner and fitted up with every convenience for the trade and contains 5 bedchambers, a clubroom 22ft by 16, bar, palour, tap, kitchen, washhouse, cellar areas and vaults in the occupation of Mr Cussins.” We are not sure where the ‘Wash house’ was, but we suspect the building used to have a back yard before Novello House was built next door in the late 1890s.
So we know our vaults date from at least 1809, and from the records and what we can see now they are stripped back inside we are pretty sure they are from the original premises though the back vault was clearly altered at some point, probably when the premises were rebuilt in 1824 to accommodate coal storage.