TWO new pubs will open in Henley market place over the next few days, writes Janine Rasiah.
The Henley Brewhouse, which is in the former police station, opens for business today (Friday) and the Queen Victoria, formerly known as The Victoria, will open next Saturday (December 1).
The Brewhouse was officially opened last night when Olympic rowers Alex Gregory and Zac Purchase by pulling the first pints.
The pub has seated booths in the former police cells as well as a glass-walled micro-brewery which will produce three beers and up to 2,000 pints a week.
The pub is owned by business partners David Bruce and Clive Watson, who used to own the Capital Pub Company before selling it to Greene King for £93million last year.
Mr Bruce, who lives in Hungerford, said the business would need to prove itself following objections from residents living near the pub.
He said: “We have make sure that everyone has a lovely time and to prove to everybody that it is a good thing. We are very pleased with it and hope it goes down well.
“Transforming what was a proper police station where people were banged up into a working pub is a great achievement.”
Mr Bruce welcomed the Queen Victoria opening, saying: “I genuinely hope they do well because I think it will be a very nice reason for people to come up to the top end of town away from the river.”
The Queen Victoria will be run by Simon Rolls, 28, and his partner Renee, 30.
They previously managed Mr Rolls’ parents’ pub, the Allied Arms in St Mary’s Butts, and hope to replicate its success.
They plan to create a traditional real ale venue and will offer two ales from Loddon Brewery alongside offers from other local breweries.
The pub has been refurbished and Mr Rolls hopes this help improve its reputation.
The Victoria was closed in April following a licence review over 65 breaches in five years.
Mr Rolls said the name was not inspired by the pub EastEnders with the same name and said he didn’t watch the TV soap.
“We want to bring back a more tradtional feel to the pub,” he said. “We thought the Queen Victoria sounded quite nice and had a bit of a ring to it.”
He welcomed the competiton from the Henley Brewhouse, saying: “That never hurt anyone and I think it’s going to help us more than anything.
“Hopefully, real ale is going to become quite a thing in the town. Most of the other pubs in Henley are Brakspear’s so there isn’t as wide a choice as there could be. I think it is brilliant for the town and it’s just what Henley needs.”