Campaigners today vowed to fight for the return of live music to a historic venue where stars including U2, Frank Sinatra and La Roux performed after its conversion into a gastropub and boutique hotel.
The Half Moon in Herne Hill reopened this week, three and a half years after it closed when it was badly flooded by a burst water main.
Landlord Fuller’s, which took over the pub 15 months ago, has restored it but without keeping the performance space — which also hosted Eric Clapton, The Police, Paloma Faith, and Gavin Rossdale in the pub’s more than 40 years as a music venue.
The Save the Half Moon Campaign fought to retain the site as a pub, and today said it would continue to push for live music to be staged there. “It’s very sad what has happened considering the history, and it will never be the same again, but we definitely think it can still be a pub with live music,” said the group’s spokesman Peter Blair.
“We are in a dialogue with Fuller’s to see if an 80-capacity function room it has put in the pub can regularly host music. It would be criminal not to look to put something in place to restore the real music culture that the pub had.”
Campaigners had amassed a 7,000-signature petition to save the Half Moon, which dates back to 1760. It has a rich history in the south London music scene and was where Island Records founder Chris Blackwell first met U2 and saw them perform.
Grammy award-winner La Roux, real name Elly Jackson, called it “an important place to many young musicians”, adding: “It will never be the Half Moon without live music. I certainly won’t be going there.”
Bush frontman Rossdale, a judge on TV show The Voice, said he played his first gig there, and Frank Sinatra reportedly did an impromptu performance while visiting his chauffeur. Singer Rumer not only performed but worked there. Plans to redevelop the pub were approved in April last year by Southwark council. A dining area and kitchen has opened in what was the live music space. The venue has been returned to a former use as a hotel, with 12 bedrooms — named after 12 people who walked on the moon — upstairs. Victorian features have been restored.
An outbuilding called The Workshop, which has its own bar, is the area campaigners hope can host live music.
Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s Inns, said: “The Half Moon has set a new standard, not just in Fuller’s but for the wider industry, in how to sympathetically refurbish a historic pub. It has a history and heritage that deserves to be recognised and res-pected and I truly believe we have succeeded in doing that."