Iconic gay pub Royal Vauxhall Tavern sold

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One of London’s oldest gay pubs has been sold to new owners.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) announced the news in a Facebook post.

Publican James Lindsay said: “As current joint owner of Royal Vauxhall Tavern, I am happy to respond and clarify the situation.

“RVT has been sold and I have been retained by the new owners to operate a new company trading as Vauxhall Tavern London Ltd.”

Mr Lindsay continued: “This has been necessary in order to allow RVT to continue. It has not been possible to respond before this time as Paul (Oxley) and I had various legal procedures to complete, including an obligation to notify our staff first.

“This is the second time I have now personally stepped in to secure the future of RVT. Paul and I came together to save RVT from closure 9 years ago because of the passion we both shared about RVT.”

Punters of the popular south-London venue have set up a Facebook page titled, “Future of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern”, amid concerns about its future. Some fear the pub’s homespun LGBT heritage could be lost through modern development.

But Mr Lindsay said he believed the new owners would “respect the history and culture” of the RVT – and has promised a new champagne bar and toilet facilities on the first floor.

He said: “We totally recognise, and I am extremely touched by, the way people regard and talk about the many friendships that have been built between people who have so loyally supported the business, which is a very touching and unique experience.

“Sadly, RVT has made substantial losses in recent years, which has been the driving force in the sale being necessary.

“There were two very strong offers made to us. One would have seen RVT closed for immediate development. I forcibly resisted that offer, instead working with the new owners, who I believe understand, respect the history and culture of RVT.

“Now the challenge is to turn this business around with their support.”

The statement concluded: “RVT will undergo a full refurbishment both internal and external, which will see the first floor being opened as a wine and champagne bar with a new toilet provision at first floor level. I hope that all of us who care about the future of the RVT will support this.”

Broadcaster and comedian Paul O’Grady performed at the RVT for eight years as his comedic alter ego, Lily Savage, in the 1980s.