Video: London’s Pembury Tavern Celebrates a Year of Bitcoin

One year ago, the Pembury Tavern became the first London pub to accept bitcoin. CoinDesk revisits Hackney to celebrate.

AccessTimeIconMay 28, 2014 at 4:13 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:02 a.m. UTC

Buying something with bitcoin in London is no longer a novelty.

You can buy your groceries, a trendy bicycle, a bottle of gin, and even tickets for a play in the capital. There are so many bars and pubs accepting bitcoin that you can even go on a pub crawl across town. Yes, the CoinDesk team has attempted this.

However, the first of the many pubs in London that started accepting bitcoin was The Pembury Tavern. Located in East London’s borough of Hackney, the outfit opened it doors to bitcoiners last summer.

We headed over to The Pembury Tavern to celebrate their one year anniversary and chat with founder Stephen Early to find out how bitcoin payments have panned out for him one year on.

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Early says that deciding to accept bitcoin was his “best ever accidental publicity campaign”.

“I originally decided to experiment with it just because I was interested in the technology.”

He claims he just "mentioned" online that he was starting to take bitcoin and received enormous media interest. Early says that he sees about £1,000 of bitcoin transactions per month, but due to the recent drop in the price, that number has gone down.

“With the drop in price of bitcoin recently, people are more reluctant to spend it.”

 The Pembury Tavern has been accepting bitcoin for a year now.
The Pembury Tavern has been accepting bitcoin for a year now.

As one of the first merchants in London to start accepting bitcoin, he also has some feedback for bitcoin wallet providers.

“My biggest criticism so far is some of the wallets are very bad at actually emitting unconfirmed bitcoin transactions into the bitcoin peer-to-peer network. What happens in that case is the customer’s wallet tells them they’ve paid, our till hasn’t received the payment because the transaction hasn't been broadcast over the network and then we are stuck!”

However, he has no plans of reversing his bitcoin acceptance. He sums up the last year by saying: “It’s been a fun experiment. It’s certainly been worth the time I have put into it.”


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