Tory Minister: Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a ‘symbol of tolerance’ and deserves protection

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Tory minister Tracey Crouch has praised London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern – as it becomes the UK’s first venue to be awarded listed status due to its significance to LGBT history.

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, a bid to head off any redevelopment plans was succesful this week – when the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the venue would become a listed building.

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.

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, hailed the venue as she announced the plans.

The MP for Chatham and Aylesford said: “I am thrilled to be able to list the Royal Vauxhall Tavern as Grade II – the iconic cultural hub in the heart of London is of huge significance to the LGB&T community.

“Not only of architectural interest, the venue has a long-standing historic role as a symbol of tolerance and alternative entertainment.

“Residing in Lambeth since 1860, the landmark venue has been the springboard for so many of our loved UK entertainers.

“I am delighted that the listing will preserve the history of this venue for future generations to enjoy – I hope that it continues to be filled with laughter and joy.”

Though the move has been welcomed by campaigners, the bar’s execs claim 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.