After a disastrous flood forced The Half Moon in Herne Hill to close in 2013, the future of one of south London’s most legendary pubs looked uncertain. But four years later the Grade II listed boozer is back, and more beautiful than ever…
After an extensive 15 month-long refurbishment project, the new owners, Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC, have restored the Victorian gem to its former glory – and then some – with the original windows, woodwork and painted mirrors in the snug brought back to pristine condition.
Set to reopen on Monday 20 March, those with fond memories The Half Moon will be pleased on entering, for the dark wood of the main bar is reminiscent of its old self, with a contemporary sheen, and is perfect for those popping in for a quick pint or pre-dinner drink.
Families are welcome too, as here are seated areas where those with young children can relax, as well as a new, and beautifully finished, dining area where the live music stage used to be (RIP). The kitchen, headed up by Mike Blizzard, formerly of Shotgun BBQ, Avenue Restaurant & Bar and Bar Boulud, will serve traditional pubs classics with a contemporary twist and Sunday roasts that include sharing platters.
There’s also a separate outbuilding with its own bar, The Workshop, which is a great spot to reserve for birthday celebrations or a working lunch. This space could also be the area that keeps the Half Moon’s live music heritage alive.
Herne Hill local Peter Blair spearheaded a campaign to retain the pub’s use as a music venue, and his change.org petition garnered 7,452 signatures, including those of local actor Mark Rylance and singer Paul Young.
‘Music has been an integral part of local people’s experience of the pub,’ said Peter. ‘U2 played here three times in 1980, while La Roux made her singing debut here at an open mic night aged 17.’
While the planning application failed, Fullers worked with the campaigners and the community to ensure the possibility of hosting live music and comedy in the future, retaining the back room – now the aforementioned Workshop – as a flexible space.
The Half Moon has also returned to its former role as a hotel, with the addition of 12 individually designed boutique bedrooms, each one named after one of the 12 men who have walked on the Moon. What was once a boxing gym, run by former British and Commonwealth light-welterweight champion Clinton McKenzie, is now a spectacular hotel room that occupies the entire first floor – the largest hotel bedroom in the Fuller’s estate.
‘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,’ said Fuller’s Inns Managing Director Jonathon Swaine said. ‘The Half Moon has a history and heritage that deserves to be recognised and respected – and I truly believe we have succeeded in doing that. It is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful pubs in the Fuller’s estate.’
The renovation of The Half Moon was carried out by Concorde BGW, one of the UK’s leading design and build specialists for the hospitality industry. Fuller’s has worked closely with Concorde BGW on a number of refurbishments including the award-winning Tap on the Line in Kew Gardens, which scooped a Restaurant & Bar Design award in 2015.
10 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9HU; halfmoonhernehill.co.uk