Home Historical Camden: Revitalising LGBTIQ+ Spaces Through the Black Cap Community Hub

At Castlehaven, we strive to create safe and inclusive spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community and build meaningful partnerships with organisations such as The Outside ProjectOpening Doors and The Black Cap Community to offer free activities and spaces where identities are celebrated, everyone feels welcome, and people can be themselves.

In October 2021, we partnered with the Black Cap Community, a grassroots organisation, to offer a space for their LGBTIQ+ Community Hub every Monday from 6 – 9 pm. The Community Hub was born out of the campaign to restore the beloved Black Cap pub located at 171 Camden High Street as a public space for LGBTQ+ members.

Castlehaven had the pleasure of interviewing avid campaigner and Black Cap Community Hub Session Leader Jamie to discuss the importance of community LGBTIQ+ spaces. For the past eight years, come rain or shine, Jamie has been one of the many supporters who stand outside the Black Cap every Saturday demonstrating their support for the revitalisation of the venue.

“When the Hub started, there were basically no LGBTIQ+ spaces in Camden Town, except for our little patch of queer pavement outside The Cap every Saturday,” Jamie said. “So this is a way for us to provide one while we work on getting The Cap open again.”

The Community Hub retains the spirit of The Black Cap, but it is a sober space where members of the LGBTIQ+ community can hang out, take part in activities offered to everyone, and also get support. It is also accessible and open to those who are disabled or neurodiverse and strives to bridge individuals with the resources and services they need, from social interactions to free sexual health screenings, advice & guidance to haircuts and even clothes alterations. The Hub is a flexible, free space where attendees can come and go as they, please. Each week features a new optional activity, such as collage making, cooking, or watching a film. Hot drinks and, healthy snacks, plant-based treats are also available.

“The Cap nurtured a lot of grassroots projects and organisations…The Hub keeps that grassroots spirit of solidarity and mutual support going,” Jamie said.

According to The Black Cap Community website, The Cap served as one of London’s leading gay pubs and drag venues during its operation. It hosted a range of talent and drag artists, including Lily Savage, Regina Fong, and the Trollettes.

Dating back to 1751, the pub was originally called the Mother Black Cap and is thought to have existed earlier than records show. Not only a long-standing Camden Town landmark, but The Black Cap was also an important space for LGBTIQ+ community members to gather. It was made famous for its cabaret and drag performances and was a safety net for ostracized members before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1967.

“All LGBTQ+ venues are important for so many reasons: safety, mutual support, pride, celebration, culture, [and] community,” Jamie said. “The Black Cap is really historic…and if you look at maps and drawings of Camden Town from that time, there were hardly any buildings, so The Cap has really been part of Camden since the beginning.”

The Black Cap campaign came about in 2015 after a company called Faucet Inn purchased the beloved pub along with other properties in 2010 and began plans to develop the land into luxury apartments. Unsettled by this idea, community members began petitioning for the preservation of their treasured Black Cap.

Although supporters were able to successfully designate The Black Cap as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act of 2011, The Black Cap was closed suddenly in April 2015.“…Maybe they thought if they closed The Black Cap, then people would stop caring,” Jamie said. “But people did care.”

We are committed to preserving community spaces for all groups and individuals and will continue to support The Black Cap in its role as a safe space for Camden’s LGBTIQ+ Community for as long as it needs us.

The Black Cap Community Hub meets weekly every Monday in our Community Kitchen from 6 – 9pm. Updates on our events can be found on our social media platforms @CCA_Camden.

The Black Cap Community can be found on Instagram @wearetheblackcap, Twitter @weareblackcap or Facebook #WeAreTheBlackCap. The Black Cap Community organises weekly vigils every Saturday between 2 – 4pm. For more information, please visit the Black Cap Community website.