Jo Brand joins Mayoral candidates and furious residents to protest as music ends in Half Moon Pub

On Saturday 5th March, over a hundred local residents joined comedian Jo Brand, Mayoral candidates and a host of musicians to protest at the decision by The Dulwich Estate to turn the Half Moon pub into a restaurant, thereby pulling the plug on its status as an iconic music venue.

The Dulwich Estate made the catastrophic decision when they granted the lease to Fuller’s. This is another blow to the area already blighted by The Dulwich Estate’s astronomical rent rises, forcing the local toyshop, Just Williams out of business.

Jo Brand, much-loved comedian and local resident, said 'I've lived in the area since 1978. Live music and comedy are an essential part of our community. Herne Hill is vibrant and needs this venue. You can see it happening - music is taken away, one piece at a time, until in the end it is lost forever.'

At the festival, locals rocked away to DJ Food, O'Connell & Love from Alabama 3 (the guys behind the Sopranos theme tune), as well as a range of local musicians, as they protested the decision by The Dulwich Estate.

DJ Food said, ‘I played the last night that the Half Moon was open, and we are now reduced to playing on the street, when there is a perfectly good venue just round the corner that could've hosted this festival.’ 

Mayoral candidates Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon also took to the stage to express their support.

Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem, said, ‘It’s really important for the next Mayor of London to protect live music venues as part of the London Plan.  We need an agent of change amendment that’s going through the House of Lords to protect these types of establishment.  I am really committed to driving this through."

Sian Berry, Green Party, agreed, ‘It’s a tragedy that so many music venues such as the Half Moon are closing.  They are a real anchor to the local community.  So many music venues are closing across London, the next Mayor needs to provide strategic direction to prevent further closures."

The Dulwich Estate, a local charity, have already raised rents by 70% in the area, forcing the closure of toy shop Just Williams and putting other local traders at risk, many of whom are still recovering since the devastating floods of 2013.

The £5m revenue generated by Dulwich Estate-owned properties is given to three local private schools – Dulwich College, JAGS and Alleyn's, a far cry from the organisation’s original mandate - to educate the poor.

Melissa Jones, age 43, from Herne Hill said ' The Dulwich Estate has impoverished our local area - what was once a fun, thriving, bustling centre, is slowly looking quite different. It's very worrying, and especially upsetting to think that the money from these increased rents is being spent on expensive private schools.'

Tom Fitzgerald, age 8, also from Herne Hill, said, ' I am very sad about Just Williams closing, I used to spend my pocket money there.'

 You can view all the photos here