The Duke of Wellington is one of gay Soho’s best-loved boozers and, having been closed for a full four weeks, its doors fly open this week just in time for the festive season. Here, manager Oliver Blatherwick reveals all about Christmas, New Year and beyond.
Hi Oliver, we’ve really missed the Welly being open, when are you opening the doors?
We have too and, as you read this edition, we should be opening the doors at 5pm today! So if you aren’t reading this at the Welly get yourself over to us now! We’re still working on building so you’ll have to put up with the scaffolding for another week as we just couldn’t wait to open as soon as the inside was finished.
Can you talk us through what has been done to the venue?
The Welly is an amazing old building and over the decades certain stresses on the building had finally taken their toll. Many structural changes over the years haven’t helped and has meant that we needed to act on getting the supports the building needs to keep it safe and secure. It’s been an amazing architectural process and the construction team have done an amazing job. We have discovered four different layers of flooring that have been changed over the many years – almost like a gay Time Team episode!
What’s it been like during the work?
For us (and hopefully for you guys and gals) it’s been seven weeks of limbo. The main bulk of the work has been structural and so we have not really seen much of a change to the Welly until these last two weeks. We’ve had a facelift but we’re still the same Welly that you have known and loved.
What are you planning for the reopening weekend?
We’re getting straight back to it and starting back with Soho’s best quiz on Wednesday with Cookie Monstar filling in for our quiz queens Martha and Topsie. We’re then open till 1am Thursday to Saturday with some treats over the weekend with our new Friday night Panda Pop and Saturday is #YourWelly. It’s a chance for you to spend the weekend in your Soho local and we’re looking forward to getting some feedback on what we’ve done.
What have you got planned for Christmas?
Plenty of late nights for those who want to get into the Christmas party spirit and drink plenty of spirits. We are even extending our £2.50 Monday nights till 1am for those who can last. Also, if you’re spending Christmas in central London head down to Soho and join the team on Christmas day with a compli2123mentary glass of fizz and a mince pie after lunch, as we will be wishing you a Welly Christmas from 4pm until 9pm!
What about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day?
Just because we’re getting a refurb doesn’t mean we will be shying away from decorating for Christmas, but we will be linking it in with our New Year’s Eve party with a full-on winter wonderland and celebrating the New Year with a Polar Bear Party! Dress code: white and sparkly! We will be following this with our £2.50 Mondays all New Year’s Day for the ‘hair of the bear’ party animals.
And what about into 2018?
Well, what a way to start the New Year with a new Welly. It’s still going to be your Soho local but we have some great events planned as a thank you for everyone’s patience. I don’t want to give anything away just yet but this will be our year to bring the Welly back to her former glory!