King’s Head and Bell, Abingdon could reopen this autumn.

The King’s Head and Bell on East Saint Helen’s Street in Abingdon has been closed since Autumn 2007.   It is a historical coaching inn in one of the oldest streets in Abingdon.  I believe the reason for its closure was structural damage making it too dangerous to continue using.

Last year it was purchased by Foundation Inns, who applied for planning permission to renovate it.  The plans can be seen by visiting the Vale of White Horse District Council’s Planning permission web site and entering reference number as 08/00939/FUL

Work has been proceeding over the last few months, including demolition company, electricians and plasterers, and skip loads of junk were appearing outside.  A week or so ago, work stopped.

Following various rumours going around town ranging from ‘its going to be demolished’ to ‘its turning into a wine bar’ and speculation of it getting mixed up with the Old Gaol development, none of which matched up with what Foundation Inns is all about, or what the planning permission application stated.   So I wrote an email to the directors of Foundation Inns to try to get more information.

I received two replies, one from Gavin Drew the Commercial & Finance Director, and another from Ian Grundy the managing director.   These replies say that work is now complete on making the building structurally safe, but due to the current market situation the plans need to be scaled down a bit, so requires re-applying for planning permission.  It should open this summer or autumn and will be a traditional pub with real ales and reasonably priced food.   The full replies are at the end of this article.

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Pubs closing down… do they want customers???

The Oxford mail had a report the other day about how pubs are losing business because of the smoking ban. In particular the landlord of the Plough in Abingdon says he is closing down because he has lost over 50% of his trade since the ban. However some other pubs are reporting an increase in trade. I admit I rarely go the Plough because there is no good reason for me to do so. It serves only one real ale (Greene King IPA) and does nothing to differentiate itself from other pubs. It still has the look and feel of a local boozer. Continue reading

Good Customer Service : Punch Bowl and Brewery Tap, Abingdon

As a contrast to a previous posting which has since been removed about the poor service we received in an Abingdon pub, I thought I’d balance it with praise for some good customer service we received in various Abingdon pubs on the same day.

The Punch Bowl staff and landlady were friendly and welcoming as usual. In addition they offered free turkey and cranberry rolls, and warm mince pies to all the customers. The Morland Original I drank was in good condition and well served. Continue reading

Cider Making – Strange gravity

I am making some cider at the moment. I have approximately 10 gallons (50 litres) brewing away. The juice was part of a bulk order from the nearby Millets farm which was split amongst members of our Oxford Brewing Group.

There is no recipe to speak of… basically I made some dried wine yeast (10 teaspoons) into a starter with a little brown sugar boiled in water and cooled. Pitched it into the apple juice in the containers I collected the juice in (food grade 5 gallon plastic). The next day it was fermenting out of the top and all over the floor… so I took it outside for a few days until it had calmed down.

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