THE humble Sunday session is set to undergo a radical change, with the Walkabout Shepherd’s Bush to make drastic changes to the way it operates due an increase in crime in the area.
The pub, seen by many as the unofficial embassy for the Australian, New Zealand and South African communities in London, will operate a one-way door policy from 4pm on Sundays, the time when revellers usually flock to it.
It did not open on Sunday, the first time it has not opened its door in over four years, and will also be closed this coming Sunday, with the one-way policy coming into force seven days later.
The changes have come about following discussions with local Police, who have noted an increase in crime in the area on Sunday evenings.
“Due to a recent increase in crime on Sunday evenings, and following conversations with Hammersmith Police, we will not be opening for the next two Sundays,” a statement from the pub said late last week.
“Following this, we will open as usual at midday on a Sunday from February 24th, but will stop new entries at 4pm, ensuring that all genuine sports fans are able to join us for all live Sunday afternoon sport.
“This only affects Sunday evenings and we will open our usual hours every other day of the week.
“We’re very sorry for any disappointment this may cause but customer safety is at the heart of everything we do, so it’s important that we work together with the police to help reduce crime.”
The pub will also make changes to its entertainment on Sunday evenings, and is currently in the process of making changes to its drink offerings, which it has been suggested may see an end to the popular snakebite.
The Shepherd’s Bush Walkabout has been a popular Sunday afternoon watering-hole for more than a decade, drawing well over a thousand high-spirited punters on a busy day.
It is a popular destination for those who have been at The Church in Clapham Junction, which finishes at 4pm, many of whom are dressed in eye-catching outfits.
Pub management did not want to discuss the changes publicly, but were keen to point out they were proud to be a focal point for the antipodean community and would continue to welcome them.
However the changes were necessary to keep their customers and the general public safe.
It is understood the increase in crime is not related to serious offences, but incidents that take up valuable police time and resources.
The changes come almost a year to the day that The Redback pub in Acton, another favoured drinking haunt of Kiwis and Aussies, was forced to close following complaints about rowdy behaviour by local residents.
Another Walkabout in Finchley Rd closed late last year, but management at Shepherd’s Bush were at pains to point out there were no such plans to do the same and they were planning on spending money on sprucing up the pub.
Customers and fans of the pub have been quick to air their views on the changes, with opinion divided between those rueing the end of a much-cherished tradition and those blaming the behaviour of patrons for forcing the changes.
Divan Gerber said on Facebook: “What the hell? It’s a tradition going from the Church to Walkie, just up the damn security as they do with all other events that have security/crime concerns.”
“First the Redback, then the Slug, now this? You’ve changed London!” Lindsay Brown said.
“London’s ruining our backpackers tradition,” Michael McKinley said.
Leith McGoodbloke also saw it as the end of an era.
“This is a sad day… The Walkie has cancer and will be dead soon. I’m glad I lived in London during the Walkie’s prime. May snakebite Sunday and the great times it facilitated Rest in Peace.”
The move found favour with Mike Harris, however.
“Champion effort guys. this is a massive hit on one of your busiest days to try and ultimately improve customer safety and experience.
“You definitely do not suck, this is not a disgrace, and there are other places people can go (the other Walkies???).
“People that do not see this as a step forward for their benefit are obviously too immature or lack life experience to see that this is a necessity.
“Grow up haters, find another watering hole for a couple of weekends, London doesn’t lack them, or go see the sights. Isn’t that why you are here???
“I’m pretty sure you can be a bit more productive with two free Sundays not in the pub, or is that too hard for ya? (sic)”
(Image: David Hawgood via Wikimedia Commons)