This weekend, The Duke of Wellington celebrates a decade of flying the flag as a classic British boozer with a distinctly pink tinge, slap-bang in the heart of central London! Soho certainly wouldn’t be the same without it.
General Manager Craig Taylor, who has been with the pub for the entire decade, tells us just what makes the venue so special…
“What makes The Welly so special in my opinion is that we are a ‘local pub’ in the heart of the metropolis and we are keen community players belonging to groups like the Westminster Gay Business Forum, The Soho Society, The Soho Steering Group and having kept good rapports over the years with both St Anne’s Church and Soho Parish School.
“I love the fact that a profit orientated business like ours can give something back to the wider community which makes Soho unique in so many ways.”
“Celebs that we have seen come through our doors in the past ten years and have had many a laugh, drink and gossip with include: Richard O’Brien, Gerry Halliwell, Julian Clary, Graham Norton, Stephen Fry, Jonathan Wilkes, Robbie Williams, Michelle Collins, Gareth Thomas, Brian Dowling, Matt Lucas, Amanda Barrie, Felicity Kendall and Claire Sweeny!”
10 things you didn’t know about The Duke of Wellington
- The first census registry at the site was in 1881 and it listed Charles Ed Hick as the first public house manager.
- The Dukedom of Wellington, derived from Wellington in Somerset, is a hereditary title in the senior rank of the peerage of the United Kingdom.
- The Duke of Wellington is best known as the ‘Iron Duke’, his most famous victory at Waterloo in 1815.
- The Duke of Wellington, perhaps Britain’s greatest hero, was in fact seen as a disaster in his mother’s eyes!
- The original Duke of Wellington, pre-Rat & Parrot days, was frequented by a big lesbian following.
- Built originally as a town house, the larger side of the building facing Wardour Street was a later addition.
- Due to the above fact we have two postal addresses. One being 77 Wardour St and the other No. 2 Winnett Street.
- The Welly officially opened as a predominately gay bar on 9/11. We decided to carry on and open on that day as we thought a united front was the best message. It was a solemn night in London but people still came to see our new venue. Many of them still drink in here today!
- Not many original features remain, the ground floor external frontage was refaced in the 80s with modern woodwork, the only original stained glass exists above the Winnett Street private door (You know the one, the sign that you all love to comment on every time I leave my house…’NO SEX WORKERS WORK FROM HERE’ we do have reason for this sign, believe me!)
- When we first opened in this carnation the company at the time suggested calling the pub ‘The Rainbow Bar’ much to my dismay! I eventually convinced them that returning to its original namesake was the only way forward.
“My most embarrassing moment? You don’t get through running a successful gay bar after ten years without a few embarrassing moments! Having narrowed it down, I have chosen one of my many favourites and it would be dressing up for our ‘Bars In Your Eyes’ theme one year celebrating Pride London as one of my hero’s ‘thee most fabulous Elaine Paige’… and unfortunately being mistaken all day for Charity Dingle from Emmerdale! Personally I did not see the resemblance whatsoever! However, in hindsight I think I may have looked more like my mother… ooops!”
The Duke of Wellington (77 Wardour Street, Soho, W1) celebrates its 10th birthday all weekend!
Friday 30th September: DJ Luke Gavin of Soulbearers. Saturday 1st October: DJ MR Jones.