Gordon Ramsay pub squatters: Camden Art Café cancels event as donated potatoes arrive outside

Two boxes of potatoes were sitting outside Gordon Ramsay’s squatter-occupied pub on Tuesday, the occupants having been served a High Court notice.

A group of at least six “professional squatters” entered Ramsay’s Grade II-listed pub in Camden, the York and Albany, last week, promising to use the site as a community café and arts space.

It was reported that the police were called in a bid to have the squatters removed, but the Met said the occupation was a “civil matter,” didn’t attend, and those behind the newly coined Camden Art Café began promoting events such as “paint ‘n’ chinwag”.

The Standard visited the York and Albany on Tuesday in the hope of taking part in the latest community arts day, but found the doors to the pub closed. The lights were on but, seemingly, nobody was home.

 (Josh Barrie)
(Josh Barrie)

At around 1pm, a man in a tracksuit and baseball cap arrived in a white Mercedes and knocked on the door, but also received no reception, while others filmed the building from outside. Two workers for HS2 who were posted on the junction nearby to record traffic said they had been there all week and had relatively low activity, with few coming in or out.

Camden Art Café events were due to be held on Tuesday and Thursday, between 1 and 4pm, but the group behind the project said it had been forced to cancel any activities after legal proceedings on behalf of Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Limited were initiated against “persons unknown”.

The court case has been filed under “trespass” and is a bid for “accelerated possession to reclaim control of the property”. It is understood that leading lawyers at Harbottle and Lewis have been instructed to bring the High Court action.

After entering the pub, squatters posted a notice of their own on the pub’s window, explaining that because it wasn’t a “residential property” they were not breaching the law. Signed by “The Occupiers”, the notice also threatened legal action against anyone who attempts to remove them and advised doing so would require a claim for possession through the County Court or High Court.

 (Josh Barrie)
(Josh Barrie)

In a further statement on social media, the squatters wrote: "We are occupying the York and Albany Hotel in Camden as the collective Camden Art Café. We aim to open our doors regularly to anyone and everyone, particularly the people of Camden who have been victims of gentrification and parasitic projects like HS2.

“We provide free food, drinks, and a space to display their art without the ridiculous red-tape that galleries require people to jump over. We believe all of us and our art deserve dignity.

“Camden is a borough with one of the biggest wealth disparities in London, so it seems only fitting that £13 million properties that most locals would never be able to afford to visit should be opened up to all.”

Ramsay, meanwhile, one of the UK’s most successful and celebrated chefs, has not commented. A spokeswoman for his restaurant group told the Standard that she was unable to provide a statement because legal proceedings were already underway.

 (Josh Barrie)
(Josh Barrie)

Ramsay leased the York and Albany site from its freeholder, film director Gary Love, in 2007, but closed the premises in March 2024. It has been listed on the market with a guide price of £13 million.

There has already been controversy surrounding the historic coaching inn, including a court battle between Ramsay and Love, the Standard reported previously.

Mr Ramsay claimed that the 25-year lease for the premises had been signed with an effectively forged signature, alleging his father-in-law, who was then CEO of his company, had used a ghost writer machine to sign his name on a document that made him personally liable for the rent.

Mr Ramsay was unsuccessful in his action and remained bound by the lease.

The John Nash-designed building is on the market now with nine years remaining on Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd’s £640,000-a-year lease after Mr Love said it was “time to get rid of it”.