A LANDLORD who ran some of the most popular pubs in Abingdon has died aged 69.
Keith Heritage was the former landlord of Abingdon’s Crown, Mr Warrick’s Arms and the Brewery Tap.
The Crown was popular with townspeople in the 1980s and the Brewery Tap, opened after the Crown’s closure in 1993, won awards from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), being the most recent winner of pub of the year for South East Oxfordshire.
After working with wife Marilyn for more than 40 years in the hospitality industry, the couple then handed over their business to their son Matthew.
Friend and CAMRA member, David Cogdell, 60, said: “He was a well-respected landlord and much-loved landlord in Abingdon.
“He and his wife were very successful right up until their retirement.”
Keith Heritage was born in Anstruther, Fife, Scotland, on December 23, 1944.
The son of an airman, his family moved south to Ilford, Essex, after his father’s posting to an RAF base in Scotland ended and he got a job with the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, Essex.
They later moved to Hemel Hempstead, Herts, where as a boy Mr Heritage attended Apsley Grammar School, now Longdean School.
While there he played cricket for Hertfordshire and gained a higher national certificate in maths from Aylesbury College.
He also took up the drums and throughout the 1960s played in bands with his brother, Geoffrey, even playing on the same bills as Dusty Springfield and The Hollies.
In September 1968 he married Marilyn Seabrook in Hemel Hempstead and for the next 44 years they were to work together as hoteliers, fish and chip shop owners, pie makers and publicans.
Mr Heritage came to Abingdon in 1987 with 15 years experience in the hotel industry and decided to open a pub with his wife.
In July that year, he became the new licensee of the Crown in Ock Street and in 1989 was asked by Morland Brewery to take on the nearby Mr Warrick’s Arms hotel as well. What was initially conceived as a six-month arrangement would end up being an almost two-year tenure, before it closed in 1991.
In 1993 Mr and Mrs Heritage were also to close their beloved Crown.
That year the couple decided to open The Brewery Tap, also in Ock Street, which they passed on to their son Matthew and his wife Jacquiline in 2000.
Since then Mr Heritage and his wife continued to play a role at the pub behind the bar.
His son said: “My father’s legacy is in his approach: honesty; humility; fairness; high standards; values and passion for what he did and the people and community he served.”
Keith Heritage died on July 28, following a short period of illness.
He is survived by his son Matthew and daughter Catherine, two grandsons and his brother Geoffrey.
His wife predeceased him in October 2012.
A funeral will take place tomorrow at Holly Trinity Church, Conduit Road, Abingdon, at 12.30pm.
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