The Fellowship And Star in Bellingham, once home to boxer Henry Cooper, has reopened having been saved from dereliction. It is now back to its original purpose as a live music venue and vital community hub.
The venue has created much-needed jobs, opportunities and business in one of London’s most deprived areas.
The revamped site now includes: a cinema - Bellingham Film Palace, a live music venue, cafe, bar, music hub and studios.
Originally the site included two bars, a 200-seater dance and music hall, a function room, an off-license bottle shop and family accommodation.
In 1963, heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper lived and trained there in the lead up to his first fight with Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) at Wembley Stadium.
In the 1960s and 70s, it hosted many well-known music acts including Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton. Since the 1980s however, the Fellowship fell into disrepair.
In 2016, social landlord Phoenix Community Housing was awarded over £4m by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to return the Fellowship to its former glory. They partnered with pub group Electric Star to return the building to commercial use, ensuring a sustainable future for Bellingham’s heritage.
Three years and lots of hard work later, the landmark building is now taking its place at the heart of the community once again.
It is also the home of charity Lewisham Music, which provides musical programmes and tuition to young people across the borough
Jim Ripley, Chief Executive of Phoenix Community Housing, said, “Some people might wonder why we have redeveloped a pub. For us, it’s simple: we want to help make our corner of Lewisham a destination, not just somewhere to pass through.
'Ultimately our ambition is to bring wider investment to our area and opportunities to the people who live here. The Fellowship & Star is already having a huge impact on this community, from the creation of new jobs to business opportunities, and this is just the beginning.'