It's hard to miss the building that used to be — almost three decades back — the Lord Napier pub.
Listed as a heritage asset, the erstwhile pub — and its graffiti blanketed facade — has been a reminder for years of what the Hackney Wick neighbourhood represented in the city: an area with a strong artistic identity, and an equally strong outsider identity. The facade was a huge communal canvas, covered in graffiti, announcements, and politically infused posters, a continually shifting palimpsest of local experiences, concerns, and creative expression — and a bright act of defiance against the beigeing of Hackney Wick by encroaching property developers. Inside it was occasionally lived in by squatters, and used as a rave venue in the early 2000s. We've done a deeper dive into the building's (literally) colourful past here.
In 2019 — after years of rumours about the Lord Napier's restoration — Tower Hamlets granted a premises licence to Electric Star Limited, behind such makeovers as The Fellowship and Star in Bellingham. The new venue will have a rooftop terrace, a late licence for gigs, and northern Thai inspired streetfood in the kitchen.
It's not a welcome comeback for everybody: some locals consider the refurbishment by a pub group to be misaligned with the anarchic spirit of the venue. But the new pub, opening this month, has promised to work within parameters that would reflect and respect the building's history — including having the exterior updated by a team of local artists, led by one of the original painters of the building. Watch this space for more news — and a look at the interior — when the pub's reopened.
Lord Napier and Star, Hepscott Road, E9 5ER.