AN AWARD-WINNING city-centre pub is closing this weekend after the landlord said it was no longer economically viable to run.

Staff from Far From the Madding Crowd in Friars Entry will serve the last customers on Saturday after 13 years.

Landlord Charles Eld said it had been struggling since 2011 and blamed a number of factors including a change in the culture of drinking and the rent.

He said he made the decision to close after failing to negotiate a deal on the rent.

He said: “It is a very sad day but the support we have received from our customers on Twitter has made a difficult time more bearable.”

The 63-year-old former manager of Morrell’s Brewing Company added: “I’m getting old now and I don’t think at my age I’d consider reopening the pub in another location.”

Far From the Madding Crowd was opened in 2002 by Mr Eld, who claims that the pub was the “youngest” in Oxford.

After establishing itself as a place for a multitude of locally-sourced ales, it was awarded the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub of the Year Award in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Mr Eld said: “What has caused a massive issue is minimum alcohol pricing, which puts a great strain on pub owners.

Our top stories

“The culture of drinking has changed too and we can’t compete with supermarket pricing of alcohol.”

Chairman of Oxfordshire CAMRA Tony Goulding said: “Charles and his team have worked hard over the years and Far From the Madding Crowd has been a favourite of CAMRA members for many years.

“This is a typical indictment of rising rents in the city of recent years.

“The pub industry is more susceptible to these increasing rates and as a result Charles and the Madding Crowd have become victims of that.

“The Madding Crowd definitely did a lot to get the real ale scene in Oxford moving and it is a sad loss.”

Mr Goulding said he thought it was a unique case and that the pub industry in Oxford was actually quite healthy.

He said: “It’s a bit off the beaten track and not in a conventional pub setting, so the rents will be different.

“Oxford is a very prosperous city and we have a healthy pub industry here.”

Pub regular and Shipton-on-Cherwell resident Seamus Leahy said: “I would be very sad to see it change hands.

“It’s one of the very few places you can go in and you’re not going to get people arguing and causing problems.”

The building in Friars Entry is owned by the Strathclyde Pension Fund, which also owns the nearby Randolph Hotel.

It is not known whether the premises will remain a pub.

Strathclyde did not respond in time for a comment.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.