Pub is forced to close after brawls and drug incidents

Former bar staff at The Nelson, David Lock and Freda Moffatt, left, with former landlady Ivy Morley at the now closed Cowley pub

Former bar staff at The Nelson, David Lock and Freda Moffatt, left, with former landlady Ivy Morley at the now closed Cowley pub Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Rose Hill, Iffley and Littlemore. Please call me on (01865) 425422

AN OXFORD pub shut its doors for the last time on Saturday after recent incidents involving violence and drug use.

The Nelson, in Between Towns Road, Cowley, has been serving customers in its current incarnation since the early 1960s, when it moved to allow the Templars Square shopping centre to be built.

It previously traded for many years in Hockmore Street.

But The Nelson had its last trading day on Saturday, before being officially shut from today.

Manager David Brewerton said he was told by the owner, the Spirit Pub Company, almost two months ago that it was calling last orders.

He said: “Spirit group got in touch at the end of June. They said they were going through the council and police without me and said I had to get out of the pub.

“They served me a notice saying I had to get out and if I did get out, I would get my deposit back.

“We will be closing today. As far as I know, no one will take the pub over.”

Oxford City Council has confirmed that it was not involved in the closure and the Spirit Pub Company has not provided an explanation as to why the pub is shutting.

In February last year, a man was arrested on suspicion of affray after a brawl at the pub.

In May this year, police found substances believed to be illegal drugs on the premises.

But Mr Brewerton said things had improved in recent years.

He said: “When I took the pub over we had very, very high drug readings and there was a lot of violence.

“Through barring people and a zero-tolerance policy on drug use in the pub, we reduced and got the drug use right down.

“Some people would probably say it’s a good thing to see the pub go, but the regulars were always very friendly in there. I have never had any problem with them.

“I’m concerned for the four staff in the pub, who have nowhere to go now.

He added: “And our regulars have nowhere to go. They have lost their meeting place.”

Seventy-five-year-old David Lock worked as a barman at The Nelson in the 1970s and 1980s.

He said: “I was very surprised when I heard it was closing down.

“I worked there part-time for years, about 10 or 15 years back in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It was a lovely family pub, good landlord and landlady, and her food was absolutely spot on.

“At dinner hour, when the men came out of the factories, we would have the food waiting for them, because they ordered it the day before.

“It was always busy. You couldn’t get them out at night. I loved working there.”

A spokesman for the Spirit Pub Company said: “We can confirm The Nelson will be closed again on an agreed surrender on September 1.”

He did not reply to the Oxford Mail’s questions about why the company was shutting the pub, nor provide a response to Mr Brewerton’s comments.

Oxford City Council’s director of community services, Tim Sadler, said the council had not ordered the closure.

He said: “The council has not requested the pub to surrender its licence.

“No application has been made to the council to surrender the licence by Spirit Group.”

Thames Valley Police declined to comment.

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Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:19am Mon 1 Sep 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square.

The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect.

Then bring back Wilko of course!
It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square. The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect. Then bring back Wilko of course! Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -8

9:50am Mon 1 Sep 14

GRB says...

I'm quite surprised the pub has lasted so long. I thought as soon as Wetherspoons opened it would spell the end for The Nelson.
I'm quite surprised the pub has lasted so long. I thought as soon as Wetherspoons opened it would spell the end for The Nelson. GRB
  • Score: 15

12:16pm Mon 1 Sep 14

King Joke says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square.

The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect.

Then bring back Wilko of course!
Yes the whole Wilko/Nelson/car park block is a b|oody eyesore.

You'd wait a long time for anything to be done though, look at the delays and objections being thrown up to much-needed high-density housing at the Community Centre site across the road.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square. The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect. Then bring back Wilko of course![/p][/quote]Yes the whole Wilko/Nelson/car park block is a b|oody eyesore. You'd wait a long time for anything to be done though, look at the delays and objections being thrown up to much-needed high-density housing at the Community Centre site across the road. King Joke
  • Score: 5

10:31pm Mon 1 Sep 14

baldy bill says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square.

The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect.

Then bring back Wilko of course!
stop dreaming
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: It would be a fantastic opportunity to "tidy up" that corner of Templar's Square. The ideal situation would be for the pub, Wilko, multi-storey car park and the building housing Ladbrokes & Swinton to be demolished and rebuilt as a modern and attractive mixed retail, parking, office and student accommodation unit. Five floors + underground service deck would be perfect. Then bring back Wilko of course![/p][/quote]stop dreaming baldy bill
  • Score: 0

7:04am Tue 2 Sep 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

I popped into Templar's Square yesterday evening and the steel shutters were going up on the windows of "The Nelson".

I hope that demolition is undertaken quickly, or at least for the owners of Templar's Square to put up some form of decoration or greenery to hide the warzone look.
I popped into Templar's Square yesterday evening and the steel shutters were going up on the windows of "The Nelson". I hope that demolition is undertaken quickly, or at least for the owners of Templar's Square to put up some form of decoration or greenery to hide the warzone look. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 2

7:05am Tue 2 Sep 14

Myron Blatz says...

Gawd, not more 'student accommodation' for a City which so desperately needs social housing for those who try to work for a living, he disabled and those who need a home, rather than just temporary accommodation while they get a degree? As for 'saddness' about he Nelson finally closing, it seems the Manager must have been living in a parallel universe, because the pub and its car park have been a problem spot for years with regard to drugs and anti-social behaviour. Nor is Cowley going to miss people who used to spend hours boozing, day or night! Hard drinking and 'liquid sociability' should be a thing of the past, in the same way as smoke-filled bars, drunks and people begging outside to buy more booze! Sadly, those comments made about how nice the pub used to be are probably best kept as enjoyable memories from happier times, and when a 'good pub' usually meant a good Landlord!
Gawd, not more 'student accommodation' for a City which so desperately needs social housing for those who try to work for a living, he disabled and those who need a home, rather than just temporary accommodation while they get a degree? As for 'saddness' about he Nelson finally closing, it seems the Manager must have been living in a parallel universe, because the pub and its car park have been a problem spot for years with regard to drugs and anti-social behaviour. Nor is Cowley going to miss people who used to spend hours boozing, day or night! Hard drinking and 'liquid sociability' should be a thing of the past, in the same way as smoke-filled bars, drunks and people begging outside to buy more booze! Sadly, those comments made about how nice the pub used to be are probably best kept as enjoyable memories from happier times, and when a 'good pub' usually meant a good Landlord! Myron Blatz
  • Score: 13

10:35am Tue 2 Sep 14

oxfordgirl1974 says...

But surely, by closing the Nelson, all that's going to happen is that the problem will move to the Wetherspoon pub. And, if not there, then it'll just go further away to the Original Swan. The problem will only be eradicated when the police position themselves right outside every pub in the area - never going to happen.
But surely, by closing the Nelson, all that's going to happen is that the problem will move to the Wetherspoon pub. And, if not there, then it'll just go further away to the Original Swan. The problem will only be eradicated when the police position themselves right outside every pub in the area - never going to happen. oxfordgirl1974
  • Score: 0

10:46am Tue 2 Sep 14

King Joke says...

The difference with Wethy's and the Swan though is that they can afford to bar the trouble-makers and stay in business. The Nelson depended for its livelihood on people you wouldn't want in your pub!

I watched a World Cup game there in 2002 - it was the only pub near the Business Park with a screen - and the was like a National Front convention... utterly terrifying!

I presume the former clientele will drink supermarket booze at home and deal substances in car parks and alley-ways.
The difference with Wethy's and the Swan though is that they can afford to bar the trouble-makers and stay in business. The Nelson depended for its livelihood on people you wouldn't want in your pub! I watched a World Cup game there in 2002 - it was the only pub near the Business Park with a screen - and the was like a National Front convention... utterly terrifying! I presume the former clientele will drink supermarket booze at home and deal substances in car parks and alley-ways. King Joke
  • Score: 10

8:09am Mon 8 Sep 14

CowleyStJames says...

About time it was closed down. I've never been in a pub with such an intimidating atmosphere, even in inner City Liverpool and Manchester.
There was nothing friendly about it and it looked run down and unloved.
Would like to see another pub in its place though, but perhaps one with good food, friendly atmosphere and caring management. Something that'll give a bit of choice from the William Morris.
In other words, a family pub. Not just a drug users paradise as it used to be.
About time it was closed down. I've never been in a pub with such an intimidating atmosphere, even in inner City Liverpool and Manchester. There was nothing friendly about it and it looked run down and unloved. Would like to see another pub in its place though, but perhaps one with good food, friendly atmosphere and caring management. Something that'll give a bit of choice from the William Morris. In other words, a family pub. Not just a drug users paradise as it used to be. CowleyStJames
  • Score: 2

12:50am Tue 9 Sep 14

dant40 says...

Great news the shoplifters will have to go somewhere else to dump the swag to get a fix and they should close another one in that area because what goes on. This comment not pointed at owners it's pointed at the customers but then the owners should of taken action from the start and taken a bit more notice what's coming through the door.
Great news the shoplifters will have to go somewhere else to dump the swag to get a fix and they should close another one in that area because what goes on. This comment not pointed at owners it's pointed at the customers but then the owners should of taken action from the start and taken a bit more notice what's coming through the door. dant40
  • Score: 0

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