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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Goth pub closes after 222 years
by Debabani Majumdar
BBC News, London

Charles James Fox engraving
The pub was named after Charles James Fox
It has played its part in rock history and was named after Britain's first foreign secretary.

But one of London's oldest pubs - the Intrepid Fox in Soho - is facing closure, inspiring 5,000 people to back a campaign to save it. BBC News explores its colourful past.

These days those seeking a night of rock and alternative music are the ones most likely to be seen flocking to the Intrepid Fox, in Soho's Wardour Street.

Motorhead's singer Lemmy and ex-Sex Pistols manager Malcolm Maclaren have been known to drink there.

It is even said to be the place where Mick Jagger talked Ronnie Wood in to joining the Stones.

But the Fox, which dates back to 1784, has its roots in somewhat loftier reaches.

It was originally named after Charles James Fox by its first owner, Samuel House.

Its closure will mean sanitisation of the city's pub scene
Patrick Begent, pub manager

But it now faces being turned into trendy apartments.

This is a real blow, according to manager Patrick Begent, who has been running the establishment for 15 years.

"I was given a week's notice to vacate the place with the understanding that a property developer has purchased the building," he said.

"It's devastating. The Fox is an integral part of the alternative music scene in London and one of the few remaining."

Recounting its history, Mr Begent said that during an election campaign for Charles James Fox, original owner Mr House was not averse to promoting his friend's cause.

"According to a story, during an election campaign Mr House had offered anybody who walked into the tavern a free drink and a kiss from the Duchess of Devonshire, if they voted for Mr Fox," he said.

Gargoyle at the Intrepid Fox pub
The pub had a reputation as a haven of Goth culture
"The pub has also witnessed music history in the making. Apparently, rock star Mick Jagger convinced Ronnie Wood to join the Rolling Stones in this pub."

In a bid to retain the watering hole, Robin Canon, a regular for the past two years, has launched a petition to save the pub. He gathered 5,000 signatures in nine days.

"This pub has character and it makes you feel welcome, whatever your appearance," he said.

"Its closure will mean sanitisation of the city's pub scene and loss of cultural diversity, which is important to London's development."

According to its former owners, Mitchells & Butlers, it is just one in a package of 21 pubs across the city that were sold last month for 53m.

But the "spirit of the Fox will live on", said Mr Begent, who plans to relocate the pub to another venue.

"We'll ensure the Fox survives the hunt."

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