Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wick Snuffed Out

One of London's oldest bars, The Wick, was secretly smashed with a wrecking ball on Sunday. The whole situation is extremely sketchy. The demolition started just before a meeting planned to discuss the building's future as a protected heritage site. It was so rushed that utilities weren't even shut off, and there was still beer inside. It was left half-destroyed, with debris falling to the unprotected street below.

I've only been to the Wick a few times, but I've always had a great time there. It catered to a different crowd than the Richmond Row university types (e.g., not many places would feature Dennis Humble). I am sad to see The Wick die just as I was getting to know it.

I have no problem with the owner of the building tearing it down if that's what they need/want to do. But it didn't have to be done so sketchily. They could have at least waited until its status as a historical building was decided upon; if it was really just a useless old building, as many maintain, then fine, tear it down a few days later.

But dude, look at this:

I'm not sure when this map of London is from, but there's the Wick with its own stables, nestled among mills and carriage factories. I don't know if that sort of history is worth taxpayer dollars to preserve, but it does make its eradication all the more tragic.

People say the place was an eyesore. What? I took this picture yesterday, after someone painted "save me" on the side, but it just looks like any other old building in London.

Of course, now the backside isn't looking so hot.

I'm sure the owner has their own reasons for tearing it down. I do find it troubling that many Londoners support the move, though. Perhaps it is some implicit bias against the non-clean-cut image that the Wick and its patrons project. But screw that. I'd rather see 50 more places like the Wick than another bar pretending it's in a bigger city, or some squeaky clean clothing store that tries really hard to be cool, or whatever.

Oh well. All this sketchiness does make for an interesting story.


Dead Robot said...

Condos, right?

Phronk said...

Oh god I hope not.

Anonymous said...

It's places like the Wick that give a city character and meaning. If we tear down every building that is 'old' thats all we would ever be doing.

I too believe that the process for the Wick being torn down was a very sketchily one and I hope that someone is held responsible for the lack of caution used with the demolition. I can only begin to think of the number of laws that were broken.

With that said, I wouldnt mind seeing a small apartment/condo building go up there, but with it having the historic facade of the Wick. I think thats a very fair trade considering that the Wick's facade wasnt all that bad to begin with.

Just my two sense.

(note: the map is from 1892 revised up to 1907 and can be found here http://geography.uwo.ca/maplibrary/london_FIP_1907/ViewerImages/05.html)

Phronk said...

I'd rather see a nice business or another good bar go in there than housing...though I guess housing brings more business to the area, so whatevs. Giving it the Wick's facade is a good idea.

Thanks for the info on the map...haha I think I stole it from you a long time ago, actually.

sixty-six said...

now that i think about it, the wick would have wanted it this way: sketchy, pointless and loud. it's just a shame so many bands are losing out on cheap jam space.

Phronk said...

Haha, good point.

And yeah, the "abandoned and unused" upper floors the papers talk about were great for bands.