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Colin, The Portland Arms

  • Year Invented: 2018

The Portland Arms is a dog and family friendly pub on Portland Road. The pub is part of the Cityglen Pub Co., which is a group of independent local pubs rooted within their communities. The manager of the Portland Arms, Colin, says that the pub serves a wonderful and diverse community where everyone is accepted. 

Colin was born in Belfast but has lived in London for 15 years. He originally trained as a butcher, but lost work with the BSE outbreak. He managed his first hotel when he was only 26 and worked in many hotels since. He has also managed several pubs in South London but has now been working at the Portland Arms for four years.

Colin loves the customer base that the Portland Arms has, calling them the ‘salt of the earth’. The existing community are very loyal to the Portland Arms but they are always seeing new faces. Colin likes to push the boundaries of the pub serves and likes to meet the desires of his customers. He says he would like to see more places to eat in South Norwood, and more competition for the Portland Arms noting too many people currently go to Crystal Palace for an evening of food and drink. The pubs need to join together to keep people in the area with pubs being the heart of the community.

This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.

From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.

South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.

The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.

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