The Joiners Arms: Fundraiser to replace famous Shoreditch LGBTQ+ pub hits £100k

The developer pledged to create a new LGBTQ+ venue at the site, amidst its proposals for flats and offices, but the plans were dropped, prompting outcry.

A famous gay pub in Shoreditch which was sold off for development in 2015 could be set to be replaced after a crowdfunding campaign reached £100,000.

Activists from support group the Friends of the Joiners Arms have said they are “ecstatic” after their fundraiser reached a key milestone towards launching a new venue.

The Joiners Arms which was sold off for development in 2015 is set to be replaced after a crowdfunding campaign reached £100,000. Photo: Google Streetview

The bar in Hackney Road was formerly frequented by late legendary fashion designer Alexander McQueen, musician Rufus Wainwright, and award-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen.

It was closed in 2015 after Tower Hamlets council sold the Shoreditch venue to property developer Regal London.

The group Friends of the Joiners Arms have raised £100,000 to create a new LGBTQ+ venue. Photo: Queer Garden

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The firm pledged to create a new LGBTQ+ venue at the site, amidst its proposals for flats and offices, but the plans were dropped, prompting outcry.

Now the Friends group, who have so far reached a total of £117,885, are aiming to hit a stretch target of £150,000 by August 16, to fund a community run LGBTQ+ venue, opening in a temporary venue later this year.

The project, which will move to a permenant home next year, will be the first of its kind in London and home to the Lèse Majesté drag nights

A FOTJA spokesperson said: “Though London has an incredible collection of LGBTQI+ venues, we have lost more than half of our spaces.

“This has disproportionately affected more marginalised community members, including queer women, trans and non-binary people, people of colour (POC), and disabled and neurodiverse people.”

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The pub has been closed since 2015. Photo: Google Streetview

Amy Roberts, chairman of the FOTJA, said: “We feel ecstatic! We are honestly so blown away by the support we’ve received from the community.

“We are currently searching for an accessible space. We have secured the funding and we have a brilliant collective of queer architects and designers working with us. Once we find the space, things will happen quickly.”

She added: “My favourite memory from the Joiners Arms is the landlord David Pollard teaching us the song ‘As Soon As This Pub Closes, The Revolution Starts’. Poetic justice?

“Queer spaces are fundamental to our wellbeing.

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“Our community-run space will centre marginalised members of the LGBTQI+ communities, and break down the barriers of who gets to access and create queer events.”

In a statement on their website, the group wrote: “We did it! We reached our minimum target of £100,000!

“Thank you! Each and everyone of you are incredible and made this happen.”

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen, musician Rufus Wainwright, and award-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen have all been to the pub. Photo: Google Streetview

Co-Operatives UK will also give £25,000 of funding towards the project.

While any further cash up to £150,000 will pay for accessibility support, a marketing manage, in-house security staff, and financial reserves.

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FOTJA also campaigns to protect and create queer spaces across the capital.

The pub originally opened in 199,7 and the new venue will include a not-for-profit bar and host cinema nights and drag shows.

Steve Harrington, planning director at Regal London, told BBC London: “We would like to continue to work closely with the Friends of the Joiners Arms on their plans for the future, our relationships with our neighbours and community groups are key, and we’ll do what we can to support this important space to be created.”

Tower Hamlets council and Regal London were contacted for comment.

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