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What’s in a name for ‘Cowley’ pub?

Ed Chipperfield at The Cowley Retreat

Ed Chipperfield at The Cowley Retreat

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

WELCOME to the new Cowley Retreat pub – but you’ll have to retreat more than a mile to reach the Oxford suburb it is named after.

The former Hobgoblin in Cowley Road, East Oxford, has renamed itself after Cowley, despite the fact the pub is not in or even within sight of the area.

The pub opens on Saturday after a refurbishment. Owner Punch Taverns has also applied to extend the opening hours.

Currently the pub can serve alcohol until 11pm. Managers are now seeking to keep the bar open until 12.30am from Sunday to Thursday and 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays, with a half-hour drinking up period.

But while the plans may have gone down well with drinkers, residents have expressed reservations.

Ed Chipperfield, chairman of the nearby James Street Residents’ Association, and a spokesman for the East Oxford Residents’ Association Forum, has objected to the application, and called on others to do so.

He said: ”Cowley Road is a very attractive place with real cachet, and I am sure they are trying to tap into that. But they haven’t quite got it right.

They are quite far from Cowley itself, and this area isn’t really associated with Cowley, or the Cowley works, at all.”

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Mr Chipperfield said: “Pub kicking out time is 11.30pm round here, after which people disperse and go home by midnight. But this application means people will be leaving the venue at 1am. There is nothing to do in Cowley Road midweek at 1am, so people will congregate on the streets.”

He said Cowley Road was surrounded by a residential area filled with families.

Punch Taverns spokesman Leila Maia said: “The new licensees have decided to re-name the pub to fit in with their current business model, and we look forward to working in partnership with them to build a successful, sustainable business.

“We have applied to extend the licensing hours to attract a wider audience and we have installed a porch area to the rear of the pub to prevent any noise spreading to the local residents.”

Last summer, a closing-down party was held for regulars, and the future of the pub looked uncertain until Punch Taverns said it was looking to let the hostelry.

Former landlord Rick Windell, who ran the Hobgblin for three-and-a-half years, disappeared in May 2011 after an alleged assault at the pub. A 42-year-old was later cautioned in connection with the assault.

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