Battle is on to save 200-year-old pub

Piers Denne, right, and other residents are trying to raise £425,000 to buy The Hare and open it as a community-run pub

Piers Denne, right, and other residents are trying to raise £425,000 to buy The Hare and open it as a community-run pub

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Bicester and Banbury. Call me on (01865) 425426

VILLAGERS in West Hendred have united to try to save a village pub that is under threat.

Residents say The Hare, in Reading Road, has served up pints to villagers for almost 200 years.

But three weeks ago owners Greene King shut up shop and put the public house on the market.

Now a group has formed to try to buy the pub and turn it into a community-run freehouse.

Piers Denne, who lives in the village, is chairman of the group’s committee.

The 51-year-old said: “We found out several weeks ago about the pub (being up for sale), and after a flurry of emails there was plenty of support to run it as a community venture.

“The feeling is that we want to keep it as a pub because if we don’t there won’t be one in the village.

“We also want to try to stop the site being developed.

“Someone could easily put five or six houses on the site or open a Tesco Express and put the local shops in East Hendred under threat. We need to try to protect it.”

Avis Atkins, who was born in West Hendred and used to work at The Hare, said: “I remember my father used to go to The Hare after being demobbed.

“He played darts and dominoes and ran the thrift club from there.

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“Everyone used to go, it was the centre of the village.

“I would hate to see it go.”

A Greene King spokesman said: “We are committed to running friendly, high quality pubs which are enjoyed by everyone in the community.

“We sometimes have to make the difficult decision to close pubs which, due to a reduction in the number of customers using them, are no longer viable.

“This is the case with The Hare, one of our tenanted pubs, which is now closed and currently on the market.”

The group intends to raise the funds to buy the pub, which is on the market for £425,000.

Richard Evans, chairman of West Hendred parish council, said: “We are all fully in support of saving The Hare and we are trying to get it English Heritage listed as it is a very important building architecturally.

“The whole community has thrown its support behind the group and the effort to turn it into a community pub.

The pub was known as The Extraordinary Hare from about August 2013 before reverting to its original name after the landlord left.

Greene King then installed a temporary bar manager until it closed the pub.

As reported in the Oxford Mail, Greene King has also sold a number of Oxfordshire pubs as part of a national deal with Hawthorn Leisure.

Abingdon’s Saxton Arms was sold as part of the £75.6m deal, along with Ock Street’s Cross Keys.

A Greene King spokesman said at the time the sale was part of the firm’s “strategy to reduce the size of its tenanted and leased estate”.

The real ale group CAMRA has said more than 22 pubs across various firms have closed in Oxfordshire in the past five years.

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Comments (6)

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10:51am Sat 16 Aug 14

Quentin Walker says...

Sadly, this is a trend by the big brewers who are out to maximise profit rather than provide a service.

I understand The Plough in nearby West Hanney is also the subject of a potential village buy-out.
Sadly, this is a trend by the big brewers who are out to maximise profit rather than provide a service. I understand The Plough in nearby West Hanney is also the subject of a potential village buy-out. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 4

4:24pm Sat 16 Aug 14

Myron Blatz says...

Am all for village pubs, but like with 'community shops' the very harsh reality is that to survive, they all have to have enough 'bums on seats' or 'footfall' to stay in business, let alone make profits. Equally sad, that nationally the survival rate and sustainability of these community-led projects isn't very encouraging. What's even worse, is that quite a few of these 'community pubs' have become after-hours boozers to simply pay the bills. Others have tried to become the social centre of commumities, raising funds for local charities - simply to attract enough regular customers to help the pub stay afloat, let alone help support oher charities! They also tend to start looking like 'watering holes' for the posh and those with money the spare, where the food and beer becomes affordable only by the 'green wellies' mob! In any case, Waitrose now sell some pretty good wine and beer on the lower shelves, and for he wealthier people, there's always the local Co-op.
Am all for village pubs, but like with 'community shops' the very harsh reality is that to survive, they all have to have enough 'bums on seats' or 'footfall' to stay in business, let alone make profits. Equally sad, that nationally the survival rate and sustainability of these community-led projects isn't very encouraging. What's even worse, is that quite a few of these 'community pubs' have become after-hours boozers to simply pay the bills. Others have tried to become the social centre of commumities, raising funds for local charities - simply to attract enough regular customers to help the pub stay afloat, let alone help support oher charities! They also tend to start looking like 'watering holes' for the posh and those with money the spare, where the food and beer becomes affordable only by the 'green wellies' mob! In any case, Waitrose now sell some pretty good wine and beer on the lower shelves, and for he wealthier people, there's always the local Co-op. Myron Blatz
  • Score: -7

9:44pm Sat 16 Aug 14

Richard of Wantage says...

Quentin Walker wrote:
Sadly, this is a trend by the big brewers who are out to maximise profit rather than provide a service.

I understand The Plough in nearby West Hanney is also the subject of a potential village buy-out.
Greene King aren't brewers! There just greedy property landlords only interested in getting the maximum amount of rent from their tenants.
[quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: Sadly, this is a trend by the big brewers who are out to maximise profit rather than provide a service. I understand The Plough in nearby West Hanney is also the subject of a potential village buy-out.[/p][/quote]Greene King aren't brewers! There just greedy property landlords only interested in getting the maximum amount of rent from their tenants. Richard of Wantage
  • Score: 8

3:05pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Buntcuster says...

Maybeif the villagers supported the pub when it was open this problemwould not have occured. E£verytime i went in there on an evening it was empty. So you can not blame the brewery for wanting to get rid of an unprofitable business.
Maybeif the villagers supported the pub when it was open this problemwould not have occured. E£verytime i went in there on an evening it was empty. So you can not blame the brewery for wanting to get rid of an unprofitable business. Buntcuster
  • Score: -3

9:44pm Wed 20 Aug 14

wantagejack says...

Villagers stopped supporting the pub after Greene King killed off successful local brewer Morland, forced landlords to buy their overpriced characterless beers, some of which they have the cheek still to brand as Morlands, and destroyed what was a popular and characterful pub. It's no coincidence that in nearby Wantage there are two of the most popular and successful pubs in the county and the country - the Royal Oak and the Shoulder of Mutton - whose landlords are free of the pernicious control of the big pub companies. Good luck to the villagers - it would be a travesty if the Hare closed for ever.
Villagers stopped supporting the pub after Greene King killed off successful local brewer Morland, forced landlords to buy their overpriced characterless beers, some of which they have the cheek still to brand as Morlands, and destroyed what was a popular and characterful pub. It's no coincidence that in nearby Wantage there are two of the most popular and successful pubs in the county and the country - the Royal Oak and the Shoulder of Mutton - whose landlords are free of the pernicious control of the big pub companies. Good luck to the villagers - it would be a travesty if the Hare closed for ever. wantagejack
  • Score: 2

1:24pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Neonlights says...

Hmmm, quite a few underage drinkers in that photo!!

Can't see all those kids pocket money going very far to be able to raise the £425,000 needed.

Maybe they were included in the photo to make up the numbers. Wouldn't be the first time.
Hmmm, quite a few underage drinkers in that photo!! Can't see all those kids pocket money going very far to be able to raise the £425,000 needed. Maybe they were included in the photo to make up the numbers. Wouldn't be the first time. Neonlights
  • Score: 1

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