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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