Creating a perfect storm

South London's Pub Cinema Sensation

London is full of creativity, whether it is the numerous art galleries and museums or the never-ending supply of new restaurants and pop-up shops springing up across the capital. It is a place that welcomes new and innovative ideas and this forms a large part of its appeal. East London is more commonly known as the creative hub of London, however the sands are shifting and ‘The South’ is becoming the place to go for visitors looking to immerse themselves in London’s thriving arts scene.

The rise of ‘the creatives’ in this half of the city has seen new concepts with innovative ideas popping up all over south London. One of them is The Pub Cinema. The Pub Cinema is exactly what it says on the tin and provides two of the capital’s true loves in one go – drinking and film. A perfectly unique way to spend an evening during your visit to London, this guide will shed light on some of the best and most peculiar pub cinemas the city has to offer and will give you an insight into London’s latest trend.

The Montpellier

Peckham is the place to be right now and was recognised in 2017 as one of the best places to live in London. It is really starting to rubber-stamp its place on the map of any visitor coming to the capital. Bustling with a creative and young crowd mixed with a largely Caribbean residence, it is a shining beacon of how multiculturalism can work within a capital city. With its eclectic nightlife spots, thriving culture and colourful high-street, Peckham provides an insight into London before the days of skyscrapers and glass buildings. One place that is vital to Peckham’s community is The Montpellier.

A rarity in London, this pub is independent from any brewery and serves locally sourced and organically produced food as well as a wide a varied selection of beers. However, the pièce de résistance has to be its newly refurbished 30-seater cinema that it has in the back of the pub. It is a big part of the local community and is reflective of the creative pulse running through South London. The Montpellier is dedicated to providing its visitors with an array of independent and art-house film at less than the price of a pint (£3.95 a ticket). As mentioned earlier, The Montpellier is an independent business and by visiting this cinema you will be supporting a community orientated programme helping to keep culture alive and kicking within the capital.

The Exhibit Bar & Restaurant

The self-proclaimed ‘social club for adults’, this creative establishment in Balham is more than just a pub cinema - it is also a gallery space, studio and restaurant that offers a range of different classes and events. A space designed for people with a real interest in innovative industries and the arts. The Exhibit offers up life drawing, bottomless brunches, visual arts, stand-up comedy and speed dating for its customers.

However, beneath the bar is a hidden gem of a cinema that offers comfortable sofas for 2 people to snuggle up on as well as tickets for under the price of a regular cinema. Ryan Barker, a nearby resident said he much prefers The Exhibit to his local cinemas ‘I am a tall guy, I am 6”4 so for me the extra leg room in these places is priceless. They may be a little behind with their scheduling and do not get all the new films but who cares? You will always end up seeing them eventually’. However, not just content with being a very special place in terms of what it offers, The Exhibit is also exceptional value for money with a deal of dinner and a film for £15.90 per person. With delicious food, good drinks, a wide selection of films and a host of other different activities on offer, The Exhibit forms the perfect place to spend an evening doing something original and different when visiting the capital.

I am a tall guy, I am 6”4 so for me the extra leg room in these places is priceless. They may be a little behind with their scheduling and do not get all the new films but who cares? You will always end up seeing them eventually
- Ryan Barker, local resident and Exhibition Bar affectionardo

Cellar Door

Possibly one of the more bizarre entrances you are going to find in London, The Cellar Door lies on the site of a former gentlemen’s public toilet in the middle of a hectic thorough-fare and is reflective of the eclectic and eccentric nature of this club. Once downstairs and under the busy streets of London you are met with an intimate and dark venue that is part Weimar Berlin and part New York basement party. It contains one of the most diverse and friendly crowds you will come across during your visit to London. The venue hosts regular and raucous cabaret, drag, burlesque and music nights and openly celebrates London’s thriving LGBT scene.

However, on Sundays the booming music stops and the Cellar Door settles down for a night of Kinema and Cocktails. The set list features a Chaplin or Keaton non-talking comedy short, accompanied by Pete Saunders or Des O’Connor on piano, This is followed by a main feature cult classic meaning you get plenty of value for your money - films such as Pulp Fiction, Clockwork Orange and Chicago have been shown recently. This being the Cellar Door, extravagance is never far away with some people dressing up in full fancy dress at screenings and featuring the option for a sing-along as well. Be prepared for a cinema with a twist. Doors open at 4pm, with the main feature film screening at 5pm and tickets are available online and include a complimentary cocktail as well as unlimited popcorn.

The Garrison

To Bermondsey now and into an area that is having a real face lift at the moment. Most commonly associated with Millwall Football Club (and the unfair stigma that comes with it) Bermondsey is now a creative person’s paradise with fashion boutiques, a thriving market and brilliant pubs all readily available to visitors to the area. Down the back streets lie a true Bermondsey institution which contains quite possibly the cutest cinema you are ever going to see in your life.

The Garrison is a gastro pub with a twist. Known for its fabulous and nationally sourced food including the best pork pie in 2014. The Garrison’s Sunday night cinema club is a real locals favourite and a very charming boot. The screening room contains a mis-match of furniture against stripped back walls and antique plates, making it look like some sort of countryside cottage rather than a pub in bustling London. Once the lights are dimmed and the fairy lights come on the space comes into its own with the wall of old glass bottles offering up a majestic twinkling effect and instantly providing a cosy and comfortable ambience. The films vary from the very old to the very new and it is worth booking in advance if you want to attend as it tends to get very busy.

The Gorringe Park

Right next to Tooting Station lies The Gorringe Park, the most unique pub you will probably ever stumble across in London. Spread out across three floors the pub is an archetypal London boozer with the usual crowd but it also features a restaurant with an incredibly designed dining room and basement cinema. Unlike the others on the list, The Gorringe Park is the perfect place for those of you who are visiting London with children. With an array of children’s films screening throughout the day as well as adult films every night, The Gorringe Park goes out of its way to make sure everyone is welcome – reflective of the areas bourgeoning young family population.

Local resident, Ben, described the importance of the pub to the area ‘It is a brilliant place. The kids love it, I love it, my wife loves it – everyone loves it. The cinema is the icing on the cake as it gives the kids something to enjoy when they come here as well as being the perfect place for us to get away on a local date night if we fancy it’. Films are on at 11am and 3pm daily as well as 8pm every night meaning it is the perfect spot to go to on a rainy day or for a lovely family evening.

It is a brilliant place. The kids love it, I love it, my wife loves it – everyone loves it...... the perfect place for us to get away on a local date night if we fancy it’
- Ben, local resident and Gorringe Park fan

The lively discussion on the contrasting styles between the two sides of the Thames will rumble on forever, but there is no doubt that the South is edging out the North in terms of its creative side. The rise of the pub cinema reflects this. These institutions are key to the areas they represent, bringing art house films to crowds who would not necessarily hear about it and allowing people to try their hand at life drawing in an unintimidating environment. They are more than worth visiting during your time visiting London as they give you an insight into the lives of the people in that community and provide a unique and interesting evening for the whole family.