Iconic gay pub Royal Vauxhall Tavern gets listed status

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Iconic gay pub the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has become the first gay venue in the UK to be granted listed status – protecting it from redevelopment plans.

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 development company Immovate, putting its future in doubt amid redevelopment fears.

However, activists submitted a bid to have the building listed to protect it from changes – and today it was announced the bid was successful.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today confirmed the designation, which was recommended by Historic England.

Comedian Amy Lamé, who is the chair of the group RVT Future, said: “The listing is a fantastic milestone for our community and a victory against the odds for our beloved pub.

“We look forward to continuing our work to ensure the RVT remains a vibrant space of LGBTQ community and culture for generations to come.

“The RVT now joins New York’s Stonewall Inn, home of the gay liberation movement, in being officially recognised for its contribution to social history. We thank our many, many supporters from across London and further afield.”

The listing acknowledges the building’s history as a unique landmark – and protects it from planning applications that could see it redeveloped away from its current use.

RVT Future campaign manager Rob Holley said: ““We’re chuffed to bits but our work isn’t finished! We’re now calling upon Immovate to finally talk to us, so we can all ensure this special venue continues to flourish at what it does best: serving the community.

“If Immovate don’t think they can make the Tavern work as a listed pub, we invite them to open discussions about a community buy-out. Sell it to a group of people who actually have faith in the commercial viability of this phenomenal venue. We have the means to do this and some exciting ideas about how the RVT could be improved for everybody.

“Meanwhile, we invite everyone who cherishes the Tavern to join us at the bar to celebrate!”

However, the bar’s execs have not welcomed the ruling – claiming it makes the business harder to operate.

James Lindsay, Chief Executive of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, said: “This listing attacks the commercial viability of the RVT and the future of this fantastic gay performance venue has now been put in doubt. We need a period of time to reflect and study the listing report in detail.”

However, a large number of pubs across the country already manage to operate from listed buildings – though it is the first time a gay venue has been awarded the status.