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It's official: Caledonia gets new lease of life - literally

Exclusive: Drinks all round as pub gets indefinite stay of execution

Written by . Published on May 23rd 2013.

It's official: Caledonia gets new lease of life - literally

THE smiles say it all. 

Liverpool Confidential can today confirm that the Caledonia Pub will remain open, after a deal was struck between its new owners and its landlady, which will allow her to stay behind the bar indefinitely. 

Last month Confidential revealed how shocked Laura King, who runs the popular Catharine Street pub, was given just 28 days to pack her bags and leave her home and business – after owners Admiral Taverns sold the lease with vacant possession for “an offer they couldn't refuse”. 

The pub, which has operated continuously as a licensed premises since 1838, has found vibrant new life as a music venue since 28-year-old Laura took it over in 2010. It was shortlisted for live music venue of the year at the inaugural Liverpool Music Awards last November. 

Caledonia Pub LiverpoolCelebration time last night at The Caledonia

The Caledonia lies at the heart of an area densely populated by students and there was widespread belief that it would be developed into more rented accommodation. 

News of its closure sparked outcry across the city. A petition to save it attracted thousands of signatures as everyone from CAMRA to Councillor Nick Small weighed in with talk of it being listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), a lengthy process. 

Meanwhile, the clock continued to tick towards the May 28 deadline issued by Admiral whose mission statement is “Real Community Commitment”. 

Says Laura: “Although the support from the public was overwhelming, I spent the first week, after I was given notice to quit, going from shocked, to numb, to anxious to angry. 

“I was homeless, jobless and pretty desperate . The AVC plan could take months and while it might help the pub, it wasn't going to necessarily help me.” 

But then things all turned around. Admiral renegotiated the deal, to sell the lease as a going concern with the new buyers, who, Confidential understands, wish to remain nameless.

Says Laura: “When the new buyers first came in, they told me they were planning to turn the upstairs into flats and have a retail unit on the ground floor. 

“I explained that I lived there, that the function room is used by everybody from the chess club to meetings of university societies and that our kitchens up there. 

“They then came back and asked me if I would I be prepared to stay on, all business as usual. Except now we will be a free house.

“To say the last few weeks have been a roller-coaster is an understatement.” 

She added: “For the last month we've been firming up a deal. After all that had happened I was very wary of people, and especially with all the stuff going on at Mello Mello, so it took time to sort out with lawyers."

With the ink just dry, she added: “But I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I have a contract to stay on here for five years, but there is an option to stay here indefinitely. This is my home and I will be putting everything into making it work for all of us. 


“This Sunday (May 26) is our third birthday – the day I was supposed to be packing my things. We will be having the biggest party ever, to celebrate, and I want everyone who has supported us, including the councillors, including CAMRA, to come down and celebrate the future.

Laura KingLaura King"I want to use my experiences in all of this to help other people who may find themselves in similar difficulties. I have learned so much in such a short time."

The Caledonia, which specialises in promoting rockabilly, folk and roots bands, had been due to play a big part in the Philharmonic Hall's Americana festival in July. 

A Phil spokesman welcomed the news of the reprieve, commenting. “We are big supporters of the Caledonia pub and it's a favourite among our staff and orchestra members. We are delighted that it will be playing a part in our summer Americana event, as planned.” 

A spokesman from Admiral added that they also wished Laura and the new owners the "very best of success" in their new partnership.

Of course, not everyone agrees

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

LarryMay 23rd 2013.

Great news and credit to all concerned with the campaign. Wouldn't it be great if we could get the same outcome for MelloMello. Here's hoping!

AnonymousMay 23rd 2013.

Doesn't sound like the new owners know the first thing about what they've bought, nor why they've bought it. Due diligence notable by its absence. Grounds for caution! Any deal may bind them - maybe. But it won't be worth the paper it's printed on if they sell the place on when it suits them.

1 Response: Reply To This...
NeilMay 23rd 2013.

Have you Been the Caledonia Pub ????? If you haven't i suggest you go and see for yourself what a gold mine this place is Friendly staff, Great Live Bands and the Landlady is one of the nicest Pub owners I have the pleasure of chatting to. And i say Well done Laura i look forward to spending more time at the Caledonia

Michael ChandlerMay 23rd 2013.

People power me thinks had saved the day

AnonymousMay 23rd 2013.

@Neil: sounds like you've supped a few too many in there. Read what I said in the context of the main article. The new owners clearly didn't have much idea what they were buying into, and probably didn't care, because they had their own plans: close the pub; convert upstairs into flats; and turn the pub into a 'retail outlet'. Had they performed any kind of due diligence, they'd have known why the pub should stay open. Now they agree, apparently. Sounds to me like the new owners are just chancers, not committed to the Cally at all, but capitulating for now to the popular mood. Once the fuss dies down, anything could happen. I'd be very cautious if I were Laura. Now get back in there, Neil, and soak yourself some more.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
NeilMay 23rd 2013.

@Anonymous had you been keeping abreast of the countless reports in the Local media outlets over the past few weeks you would not of made a comment like you did previously The fact when they bought the property it was sold under miss information and were only aware of the facts after the papers contacted them. They will of then looked at the books and seen that the Caledonia is making a profit that would not only be self sustaining but also return a tidy profit and also provides valuable service to the surrounding community and beyond as a friendly place to meet up with friends and have a good time. After the amount of media fuss that has gone on over the past few weeks I hardly doubt that any company would want bad publicity as has been shown. If the article is right then Laura has a contract for the next five years with a possible permanent extension which suggests that the new company are looking long term. I can also say that i enjoy going to the Caledonia when i get a chance and have a few drinks and enjoy the atmosphere.

AnonymousMay 23rd 2013.

@Neil: Most of what you've just said isn't accurate

NeilMay 23rd 2013.

Such as?? Btw why stay Anonymous i had the common courtesy to put my first name down

Kevin SummersMay 24th 2013.

@NEIL: I've been to the Cali many times and Laura is precisely the reason why I'll never go back there. She is the rudest person I've ever met. Every time I've been in she has been unreal. The place isn't a gold mine - it's dead apart from when there is a band on. She treats customers and bands like an inconvenience, surely she realizes that being rude to the people who really matter to her business isn't the way forward. If you have spent as much time in there as I have you will know what I'm on about. I'm glad she has kept the place open and it is a massive victory against big businesses and that but I won't be going back I'm afraid.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 24th 2013.

sounds like someone had a falling out, if you've been there so often

tonydMay 24th 2013.

Kevin Summers? Were you in a band called States of Reason? If so stop being an arse please mate, it doesn't suit you. Did you ever do a gig that wasn't in Bumper? And when was the last time you were at the Cali?

Kevin SummersMay 24th 2013.

I've not had a falling out as I've never been ''IN'' there, you can't get a gig unless you're in the clique - Loose Moose, Cubical etc.. It's true I haven't been in since the closure thing so that's why you haven't seen me there and yes I did do gigs in other venues, only a few... I take it you made it out of Bumper did you? Of course you did, how silly of me!

tonydMay 24th 2013.

Ha! Very brave behind your keyboard aren't you? Let's see if you're that sarcastic when I see you, as you're always about these days. The Caledonia isnt your local pub so geg out and find another place to play. And don't go to Sound either looking for a gig, parasite.

Kevin SummersMay 24th 2013.

Come on Tony, I can assure you that I was only kidding! I'm sorry if you took it the wrong way, I really didn't mean to offend you. Of course you still don't work at Bumper, you hated it when you did cos of crap bands like mine ;) I know these people are friends of yours but it's frustrating trying to get a decent gig and she wasn't nice when I asked. My bad! How are you anyway mate?

tonydMay 24th 2013.

Wow! You folded quickly! Just stop the shit talk and we'll be fine yeah? See you around Kev

AnonymousMay 24th 2013.

Wow these two seem like really pleasant characters

tonydMay 25th 2013.

I'm just sticking up for my friends and I don't want to be pleasant to Kevin. Stay ANONYMOUS and keep your opinions to yourself.

ChristinaMay 24th 2013.

The last time I was there there was a BNP poster on thw window. Enough said.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 24th 2013.

When exactly was this?

tonydMay 24th 2013.

Are you sure? Did this happen in the last 3 years?

AnonymousMay 29th 2013.

Yep, I saw that too, in the last 18 months.

AnonymousJune 4th 2013.

I'm certain the poster wasn't inside. In fact the staff of the Cale rescued one of my employees who was caught outside on the street during that melee.

Matthew GriffithsMay 25th 2013.

Loads of fascists around the James Larkin march last year- would have been stuck on the outside of the window.

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