Paul O’Grady and Sir Ian McKellen back listed status for Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

After New York’s Stonewall Inn was given landmark status, celebrity supporters have called for London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern to be designated a listed building.

The RVT is known as one of the oldest gay venues in London, and is renowned as the place where Lily Savage, Paul O’Grady’s comedy alter ego, made her name.

The local community raised concern after the pub was sold last October to an Australian company, putting its future in doubt amid redevelopment fears.

While Lambeth Council have afforded it special community status – meaning if it is sold again, the local community will be given the opportunity to buy it – campaigners want it designated a listed building to stop it from being closed or redeveloped.

Activists from ‘RVT Future’ have submitted a bid to Historic England to award listed status to the building, protecting it from changes – while a landlord-backed group ‘Love the RVT’ claims listed status would be a “disaster” and that the pub “will be forced to close” if it is listed.

Paul O’Grady has written to Historic England to back the proposed listing, saying: “I consider the venue to be my very own school of dramatic art.

“The Vauxhall Tavern was our village hall [during the AIDS crisis].”

Noting the closure of Camden’s Black Cap, Soho’s Madame Jojo’s and Hackney’s Joiners Arms, he writes that the pub “is now one of the few remaining venues to showcase new and old talent every week”, and “should be offered protection to withstand today’s developers”.

The comedian adds: “Without listing the threat to its future is all too real. With listing I know the community will rally round and ensure it remains an important venue for many decades to come.”

Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen has also written to support the application, and said: “I support the campaign to grant the Royal Vauxhall Tavern listed status.”

The proposed listing has also been backed by:

Councillors David Amos, Vaila McClure & Joanne Simpson, the RVT’s ward councillors
Penny Arcade, performer and activist
Professor Simon Atkinson, architect
Neil Bartlett, author and playwright
Nick Boles MP, Minister for Skills
Sarah Brown, charity executive
Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Secretary of State for culture
Professor Gavin Butt, performance researcher, Goldsmiths
Dr Ben Campkin, Director, UCL Urban Laboratory
Lord (Michael) Cashman, Labour worldwide LGBT special envoy
Professor Nigel Coates, architect
Professor Matt Cook, historian of queer culture
David Coke, historian of Vauxhall pleasure gardens
Dr Ross Davies, Chairman, Vauxhall Society
Kate Hoey MP, Member for Vauxhall
Councillor Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth
Professor Matt Houlbrook, historian of queer culture
James Hughes, Victorian Society
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall
Dr Dominic Johnson, performance researcher
Lois Keidan, Director, Live Art Development Agency
Revd Alison Kennedy, St Peter’s, Vauxhall
Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor of London for Education and Culture
Dr Fernando Rihl, Vice Chair of local residents association and architect
Valerie Shawcross, London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark
Tim Sigsworth, Chief Executive, Albert Kennedy Trust
Dr Catherine Silverstone, performance researcher
Lord (Chris) Smith, one of the UK’s first openly gay MPs
James Soane, architect
Jay Stewart, Director, Gendered Intelligence
Fiona Twycross, London Assembly Member

It is believed Freddie Mercury once smuggled Princess Diana inside, dressed as a man.