Friday, 10 October 2014

Gay Hussar History Part 1 - 1953-1989

Unfortunately in today's world, our high streets are full of chain restaurants, all the same, with little to no history or character. The Gay Hussar, now in its 61st year, could not be more different! It is a melting pot of history and intrigue.

Let's share some of that today!

Opened in 1953, trade was originally slow, however the restaurant was soon picked up by publishers such as Jonathan Cape and Rupert Hart-Davis located in the area.

During the 50’s, the Socialist MP Aneurin Bevan become one of the devotees of the large, rich, meals served, and the restaurant quickly attracted a devoted following amongst the left. The Bevanites conspired there earning the Gay Hussar its long-established status as the unofficial command centre of the Bevanite movement.

It was in the 1960’s when the Tribune declared the Gay Hussar as their canteen. Before long the Fleet Street political and industrial corespondents got wind of the fact that the Gay Hussar was where it was all happening.

Princess Alexandra would come often before she was married in 1963. She would always attend with a tall and dashing French-Hungarian millionaire who had a beautiful tenor voice. Victor once said he believed he must be a professional singer, because sometimes, when there were not many people in, he would burst into song.

The Guardian used it more than once in the 1970’s to thrash out its leader line in successive general elections. Perhaps the ambiance helped them to ensure they usually ended up recommending their readers to vote Labour. The Daily Mirror was also often celebrating in the rooms upstairs.

In 1983 it’s reported that Tony Blair was first persuaded to run for PM on one of the plush banquettes on the ground floor by Lord Tom Pendry. Victor Sassie sold the Gay Hussar to The Restaurant Partnership Plc in 1988 to retire. The restaurant was left in the capable hands of Manager John Wrobel to carry on nearly half a century’s tradition.

Look out for next week's blog post, where we share Gay Hussar history from 1989 to current day!

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