Friday, January 16, 2009

Venuewatch: Charlotte in administration

With The Astoria now closed, and attracting the attention of the Today programme [8.24, near the bottom of the page], there's grim news from a far more important venue.

The Leicester Princess Charlotte has gone into administration:

Andy Wright, who has run the venue for 20 years, has put its operating company, The Princess Charlotte Public House Ltd, into administration, because it did not have enough money to continue.
He is now seeking talks with Punch Taverns, which owns the building, about a possible financial lifeline.

Mr Wright said: "Basically, if they are not prepared to support it and prop it up, it's the end of an era. If Punch decided not to support the venue, we would need someone to come in, and put in some money.

"Something has to be approved by the end of the month or it will close. It's a legendary venue. It would be a big shame to see it go."

It would be much more than a shame to see it disappear - there aren't many venues outside of London which have successfully supported live music for decades, and a list of bands who have played the Charlotte would be, pretty much, a list of any British guitar-based act who did alright for themselves - and every band from Leicester since the late 1980s. It was that mix of support for local acts with bands quivering on the brink of national breakthrough that made venues like this so special.

I once went there two nights running, despite living in Liverpool, due to a mix-up on a band's touring schedule which said they were playing on the wrong night; and I have vague memories that at one point to gain access to the venue part at the back of the pub you had to more-or-less walk through the gents' toilets. But surely that can't be right?

Let's hope that something turns up for the Charlotte - and it doesn't involve being swallowed into a soulless chain which slaps a sponsor's name outside. There is some encouragement:
A spokeswoman for Punch said: "The Princess Charlotte is an important venue to the Leicestershire area and we are committed to its future."

But then Punch isn't having the greatest time of it, financially, at the moment.

[Thanks to Simon T for the tip]

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