Victoria Tavern, NW6

Soon after the Victoria Tavern opened for business, the champion prize fighter Alec Keene (whose real name was Alexander Findlay) became licensee between 1866 and 1879.

Keene fought successfully until the 1850s but then retired and like many ex-boxers, went on to manage a pub. He was at first licensee of The Three Tuns in Soho where exhibition boxing matches were held. After moving to Kilburn, Keene held boxing matches at the Victoria Tavern, situated at 205 Kilburn High Road. He also ran pigeon shooting competitions which proved popular.

Keene and his partner George Brown also provided catering for crowds at race meetings, such as the annual Barnet Fair. They set up a booth for the sale of hot joints of meat, chicken and vegetables. To round off the meal, there was “Moet’s champagne, wines and spirits, Bass’s pale ale and Guinness’s stout”.

Keene died in 1881 and he was buried at Paddington Cemetery in Willesden Lane.

Irish migration to Kilburn began in the 1930s and hit its peak around 1960. Many young men came in the UK to build houses, roads and railways in the post-war building boom. Kilburn High Road became home to many Irish pubs and dance halls.

The Victoria Tavern was renamed Biddy Mulligan’s in the 1970s, the new name was taken from a character from Irish comedian Jimmy O’Dea. The bar became an Irish republican meeting place. In December 1975 the pub was bombed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters faction of the UDA though only a few of the estimated 90 people in the bar at the time were hurt – none of them badly.

Kilburn’s Irish population began to decline in the 1990s as the Celtic Tiger economy boomed back home.

After being simply styled ’Biddies’ for a while, the pub traded as an Aussie sports bar called the Southern K.

The pub closed in the first decade of the 2000s.

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