|The Bulls Head, Barnes|
Ed Turner, Managing Director of Geronimo Inns has put out a detailed statement which answers many of the concerns of people concerned about the future of the Bulls Head as a music venue, and responds to the recent press coverage and the support for “Saving The Bull’s Head” petition. We have reproduced the Geronimo statement in full
Ed Turner writes:
“Whilst we await the decision on our planning application to add a kitchen, first floor dining room, green room and loos (including disabled facilities) at The Bull’s Head, it is extremely important to us that everyone is made fully aware of the plans for the pub and the live music. To confirm, we have not, and will not, be removing any of the equipment or facilities during the waiting period as we are fully committed to continuing with live music at the pub.
The Bull’s Head is in need of a refurbishment and the pub itself needs to cater to the modern demands of those who enjoy live music and who also enjoy Barnes, hence the planning application is largely about the facilities and not about the music room.
Our proposal is to add a centrally located trade kitchen in order to service the pub, the proposed first floor dining room and music room. This in turn required us to look at the location of the music room. Whilst the existing room has a wonderful history, the most important aspect for us is to guarantee the next generation of live music at The Bull’s Head. As the current licence allows for live music throughout The Bull’s Head, the proposed change in the music room is not subject to planning.
Therefore, we have proposed that the music room is relocated to what is currently the Thai restaurant, with a new bar and a further set of loos. However, we would not be able to do this unless we fully comply with all Environmental Health regulations to ensure that we remain a good neighbour to the local residents. In addition, the suggested move would not work unless we are able to match, or ideally improve on, the acoustics in the music room. To this end we have had the acoustic surveys completed and have consulted with acoustic specialists to ensure that we can achieve this.
Whilst we await the decision regarding the planning application I want to again confirm our total commitment to live music at The Bull’s Head and to clarify any confusion over the application.
We have great experience from our time at the Half Moon (which we have been involved with since October 2011) where we have increased the numbers listening to live music and, in addition, we have created a pub that caters for the demands of our neighbours and those who enjoy Putney.”
We have not converted that to a “restaurant”, we don’t run restaurants. We run pubs with great food, great reasons to visit and we fully respect the history of the pubs and the neighbourhoods in which we work. We are committed to investing in The Bull’s Head and to recommence the live music, with bookings already made in November and December, which we are waiting to publicise once we know the outcome of the planning and we are able to get any works completed.(Statement Ends)
COMMENT (Sebastian Scotney writes) : I can understand the sentiments behind the “Save the Bulls Head” campaign, but it has been a bit knee-jerk (it had SW14 as postcode for the first two weeks of its existence) , and I genuinely believe that Geronimo are acting in good faith, and with a respect for the heritage. When I got involved in helping Dan Fleming resolve the noise complaint issue in 2005, I remember a common response to the issue from local residents that they liked the idea of having a jazz club in the neighborhood, but seldom if ever went. Barnes – let’s be clear – is no longer an easy or obvious place to find audience for a seven nights a week music venue. (Incidentally, people trying to understand the feel of the neighborhood should read The War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen). We’d like to know if the concern people have expressed about the venue is in any way correlated with loyalty through attendance. If people want to comment on this post, it would be fascinating to know if you are writing as a regular attender of gigs.
It is good to see the statement from Geronimo – it sounds like they are trying to balance the various different interests for the space.
I signed the petition to make sure that Geronimo knew how strongly people felt about the Bull's Head.
When I lived in London, I went to the Bull's Head several times a year – no mean feat since I lived right across the other side of town!
One remaining concern is that the proposed new music room is allegedly significantly smaller in floor area than the present one. For a jazz venue to be profitable (or at least even cover itself!) you need enough seats to accommodate larger audiences for the most popular bands. The current room could hold a big band, plus a decent sized audience – will the new site be able to do this?