CroydonNews

Charity hoping to bring the music back to Thornton Heath pub

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

A charity wants to bring back music to a Thornton Heath pub once famous for jazz.

The Lord Napier, in Beulah Road, closed down in 2017 and has stood empty ever since.

Now, the Music Relief Foundation has bold ambitions to take it on.

The charity is currently based at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, and claims it was knocked back when it approached the owner of the pub, through property manager EMR Property.

The Music Relief Foundation was set up by Magdalene Adenaike in 2011 and has helped thousands of young people and adults through music.

In November 2021 it set up a music school which offers 20 courses at affordable rates – all run from just one room at the leisure centre.

Magdalene fears the Lord Napier’s rich jazz history – it became a famous jazz spot in the 1960s hosting famous musicians every week – will be forgotten as the building deteriorates.

She said: “Knowing the Napier’s musical history, we want to be able to do what we’re doing on a larger scale. People classed it as the jazz centre of South London.

“We produced a proposal of what we think could work but that was turned down.

“Until we have money the landlord isn’t willing to speak to us. We know our limitations are funds so by making people aware of this, we can begin to generate interest.

“We would be having regular classes for young people and adults and we could be able to provide employment through a cafe.

“We would have occasional concerts that we could host.”

Since it was set up in 2011, the charity has also delivered music workshops at schools and runs the More Than Able leadership academy which provides mentorship for young people to “deter them from a life of crime”.

Jazz musician Ed Cubitt works with the charity and moved to Thornton Heath five years ago. He is working with Magdalene on the plan to take on the famous pub.

He said: “Every time I walk past the Lord Napier I imagine what it used to be like. It was a full-on jazz hub. It is across the road from a primary school, just a few years ago kids might have left school and heard jazz bands practising there.

“We spoke to the property manager and thought we could help them solve their problems of having a building that is empty and allowing us to expand our work.

“I think it is short-sighted but is inevitable. We don’t want to wait until we have £1million to start helping people.”

Ed has written a book on his music learning called Music is Easy. The book is available to buy online with 75 per cent of the proceeds going to the Music Relief Foundation.

The charity has also set up an online fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/campaign/helpMRFgettheNapier.

EMR Property, on behalf of the owners, declined to comment.

Pictured top: Magdalene Adenaike and Ed Cubitt outside the former Lord Napier pub in Thornton Heath (Picture: Grahame Larter)

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