The Joiner’s Arms

London, England, UK

Demolished 2015

The Disappointed Tourist: The Joiner’s Arms, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Joiners Arms was an LGBT pub and nightclub on Hackney Road in East London, which was central to the London gay scene from its opening by David Alexander Pollard in 1997. When plans were announced in 2014 to demolish the venue in connection with the creation of new housing, supporters successfully campaigned to have it designated as Asset of Community Value.  As a result, Tower Hamlets Council required that the new development include a pub that would “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years,” the first time that planning approval had considered the sexual orientation of a venue. Since its closure in 2015, the Friends of the Joiners Arms have continued to work with the developers to discuss creating London’s first co- operatively owned LGBTQIA community center. I don’t know who took the photograph on which this painting is based.

It was my local for many years. I went to its opening and closing and saw it through its various incarnations as a rough and ready joint, popular with hookers and dealers, to its later life as a trendified hangout for the Shoreditch hipsters. I also met a boyfriend there. Julian D.