Saturday, 18 January 2020

Ex-landlord comes out of retirement to re-open pub

Ex-landlord comes out of retirement to re-open pub

THE Reformation pub in Gallowstree Common has re-opened following an eight-month closure.

New landlord Bob Hurst and his wife Sandra ran 12 pubs between the Eighties and 2015 when they retired to Achill Island, off the west coast of Ireland.

However, Mr Hurst, 69, said he got “bored” and managed to persuade his wife to return after he saw the pub advertised.

The couple have signed a one-year tenancy with Brakspear to run the pub, which they managed for a few months about 10 years ago when the company was looking for new tenants.

They also ran the John Barleycorn Inn and the Magpie in Goring, the Dog & Duck in Highmoor and the Four Horseshoes at Checkendon.

Mr Hurst, who is originally from Goring, said he was pleased to be back at work behind a bar.

He said: “I was doing gardening but that only takes the morning up and then in the afternoon I was sitting down drinking and eating biscuits and getting fat. I got bored. I needed something to do. I looked on the Brakspear website and this one was still on the market.”

The couple moved in with their 10-year-old golden Labrador Barley and began preparing the pub to serve customers again.

Mr Hurst said: “We have cleaned it up — there was not a lot of refurbishment needed.

“It was quite well furnished and we just made the best of what was here. It is a lovely pub and it just wanted tarting up a bit.”

The pub serves Brakspear’s Gravity and Oxford Gold as well as a selection of lagers and Guinness.

It offers snacks plus sandwiches and a ploughman’s lunch at lunchtimes and customers can bring in their own takeaway on Friday and Saturday nights.

Mr Hurst said: “It’s an old, traditional style. There’s no music and you can come and have a chat.

“It’s early days and we have only been here a week. You can steam in and get it all wrong. We will tread carefully.

“The best thing is meeting people, speaking to them and having a bit of banter. You meet people from all different walks of life — lovely people. There are really nice, genuine people in the village.”

He said it would take some time for people to discover the pub was trading again.

“Business is steady, which is quite nice because it gives you a chance to get the feel of the place,” said Mr Hurst.

“It will take time and we will do events and have things going on.

“If it’s all busy we do not get time to talk to people but if you get a steady little flow, it’s back to being a local and you get to know people and their names. It’s like locals used to be. Everybody has been so welcoming. The locals are happy to have the pub back.

“We also had a card from people from a past pub wishing us luck and saying they would come in and see us.”

The Reformation closed last year when the then landlord Stephanie Busher left because of what Brakspear called “personal problems”.

No immediate replacement was found and Kidmore End Parish Council became concerned the pub could be sold.

It applied to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, for the pub to be listed as an asset of community value.

This would have given the community six months to raise the money required to buy it if it was put up for sale.

The district council rejected the application, saying the parish council needed to demonstrate the pub had been a cherished hub for the community.

Parish council chairwoman Sue Biggs said: “We are delighted that the pub has re-opened.

“I have not been up there yet but I understand it has been busy. We would hope that it would be well-used.”

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