Renovation for historic Brighton boozer

William IV pub
William IV pub

The William IV on Church Street has become yet another of Brighton’s historic pubs to be bought and refurbished by a chain.

Marcus Patrick, of the Lewes Road area, had fond memories of the pub from his twenties and thirties.

William IV pub

William IV pub

He said: “Very sad to hear of its passing. It was always a bankable venue to get a seat on a busy Friday night. Many happy nights trying to remember the toilet door codes.”

Located in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine, the pub was one of the few remaining ‘traditional’ drinking establishments in the city centre, but has been bought by the Indigo Pub Company, which owns the Hare and Hounds and Molly Malone’s.

Heidi Norman, whose father Richard held the license for 49 years and weathered two recessions, said that Indigo will try to renovate sympathetically, though there will be significant changes.

“Indigo are meeting a demand. Brightonians want that sort of pub now. Some may bemoan the demise of the old style pubs but if they want them to survive they have to use them,” she said.

Ms Norman believes that Indigo will attempt to preserve the iron stove - estimated to be more than 150 years old – which was revealed in the process of gutting the pub for refurbishment.

Peter Bourne, a history enthusiast working alongside research group Underground Brighton, said he would consider it a shame if the stove were removed in the new build.

“I’d be a bit dismayed, because it’s a period stove,” he said.

Mr Bourne added that the Victorian staircase and fireplace may not have been touched since they were originally built, along with the original ash tree splinters from which wallpaper would have been hung.

Like many of Brighton’s older pubs, the William IV had to tread a fine line between being a peaceful space in the heart of a busy city, and competing with the low prices of nearby Wetherspoons and trendier establishments surrounding it.

But Ms Norman has positive hopes for the building’s future.

She said: “The William IV was once a family home and business. This is a new era and I hope the pub flourishes again as it did in its hey-day.”

Indigo declined to comment on the renovation.