How a grassroots campaign made a gay pub the UK’s first queer listed building
“This illustrated presentation describes the interlocking strands of RVT Future’s successful application to make the Royal Vauxhall Tavern a listed building following its purchase by property developers. These included: a written submission based on interviews and archival research (including London Metropolitan Archives and Bishopsgate Institute); soliciting letters of support from various authorities; canvassing backing various political parties; engaging a community of thousands; and aligning with Historic England’s contemporaneous LGBTQ+ heritage project, Pride of Place.
This success story shows how official heritage standards can be realigned to recognise LGBTQ+ heritage, despite the marginality of queer identity and the ephemerality of its historical traces. It speaks directly to conference topics including the uniting of individuals and communities through heritage research, and navigating the ‘border police’ of the heritage sector. But the listing does not definitively secure the RVT’s future, let alone arrest the forces threatening London’s queer venues in general.”
Thanks to an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, Ben Walters is a doctoral candidate at the Drama Department of Queen Mary University of London. His research focuses on queer fun in relation to the social outreach projects of the performance collective Duckie. As part of the campaign group RVT Future, Ben wrote a 30,000-word application to Historic England that resulted in a Grade II* listing for the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. A critic, producer, filmmaker and former Cabaret Editor of Time Out London, Ben blogs at NotTelevision and is a member of the #WeAreTheBlackCap campaign and Raze Collective for promoting queer performance.
The Drama Department at Queen Mary University of London is one of the country’s leading centres for the study of Drama, with an international reputation for high-quality research and excellence in teaching.
Duckie are a post-queer performance and events collective that create Good Nights Out and social outreach projects including the Posh Club, for older people; the Slaughterhouse Club, for homeless Londoners with addiction issues; and DHSS, for young performance artists.
RVT Future is a community campaign dedicated to ensuring a thriving future for the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the UK’s oldest LGBTQ pub and iconic performance space.
Ben will be speaking on day 2 of the conference