Cross about the Cross Kings

I was north of the Thames (crikey!) on Sunday, seeing the marvellous MJ Hibbett‘s show Dinosaur Planet (comes to the Fox and Firkin in Lewisham next Wednesday, discerning humour lovers) at The Lexington on the Pentonville Road, before tramping off to find a pub to enjoy a convivial post-performance beer in.

We ended up behind King’s Cross station – my fault, because I used to work in a place behind there a good few years ago. I hadn’t noticed the pub we used to drink in all that time back had since been demolished and replaced with the Guardian’s new HQ. That’s what not walking up a street for 12 years does to you.

But nearby was salvation. In the late 1990s, it used to be a grim place called the Backpackers, which on a Sunday used to be full of the capital’s biggest idiots trying to get legless at an Antipodean booze-up/pulling session called The Church. It wasn’t a pleasant place to wander past on those days. Today, it is called the Cross Kings. It is a great place – friendly, scuzzy, board games, loads of interesting characters, and – peculiarly, flamenco at six o’clock. I guess that was just on the day we were there. I promised myself I’d come back, delighted to see a rare spark of life in London’s largely conformist pub scene.

It might be too late. Londonist reports the Cross Kings’ operators are due to be evicted by Enterprise Inns on Friday. According to the pub’s Facebook group

This is almost certainly completely pointless. But in case there IS a rich benefactor out there we felt we should at least try.

Being tied to Enterprise Inns has bled us dry and our last ditch attempt to sell to a sympathetic entrepeneur has fallen through.

We’ve been served with a letter of eviction which means we have to leave the venue on Friday 9th July.

If there’s anything anyone can do to save this unique and brilliant venue, do not waste a moment…

As Londonist points out, the area will soon be home to Central St Martin’s art college – so it’s not as if it’s a completely lost cause.

While the people behind the Cross Kings have put their backs into making a distinctive and unique place to drink, the likes of Enterprise seem intent on strangling local pubs. I hope the Cross Kings gets a last minute reprieve – and if you want to find out what I’m on about, you’ve got between now and when the beer runs out on Thursday.