Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton venue to be restored

The Fellowship Inn's lower hall. Pic: Phoenix Community Housing

The Fellowship Inn’s lower hall. Pic: Phoenix Community Housing

A semi-derelict Catford pub is to be turned into a community venue thanks to a multi-million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Phoenix Community Housing announced today that it has been awarded £3.8million to develop new facilities at The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham.

The pub was the first to ever be built on a London UK housing estate in the 1920s. It was originally part of a “Homes for Heroes” development to ease inner city overcrowding following the First World War. The pub has been in serious disrepair since the 1980s.

Chief Executive of Phoenix Community Housing, Jim Ripley said: “Over the past few decades pub after pub in our area has closed its doors… We’re delighted that we’ve been successful in our bid for almost £4 million Lottery funding.”

“We look forward to building on the heritage of a fantastic building and creating a venue that will create new opportunities for hundreds of our residents and really put Bellingham back on the map.”

The newly developed pub will house a microbrewery, a live music venue, a café, a bakery and an artist’s studio as well as Lewisham’s only cinema. The main bar will also be restored.

The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham. Pic: Phoenix Community Housing

The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham. Pic: Phoenix Community Housing

During its prime, the pub welcomed some famous names. Bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers performed in the theatre, while heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper stayed and trained there in 1963 before his fight with Cassius Clay who later became Muhammad Ali.

The building was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 2013, as a “remarkably complete example of an inter-war public house.”

The funding, which has been awarded through HLF’s Heritage Enterprise programme, is designed to help developers when the cost of repairing a historic building is so high that restoration is not commercially viable.

Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, said: “It’s innovative and commercially-focused projects just like The Fellowship Inn, for which the Heritage Lottery Fund created Heritage Enterprise.  Once at the heart of a thriving community for heroes, this vital funding will give this beleaguered building the financial leg-up it needs.”

Alan Hall, Labour Councillor for Bellingham, said: “This is a seriously major boost for the area… We asked for a significant amount and I am delighted that all our hard work has paid off.”

It is hoped that the creation of the community venue will generate 72 new jobs and apprenticeships along with more than 200 volunteering and training opportunities.

Phoenix hopes the scheme will lead to increased investment in the area through additional visitor numbers and act as a driver for further regeneration.

Phoenix, established in 2007, is London’s first Community Gateway housing association. It manages 6,300 homes in south Lewisham.

The Fellowship Inn is the second pub it has acquired as part of its efforts to regenerate the Bellingham, Downham and Whitefoot areas of south Lewisham.

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