AFTER nearly 100 years as a suit shop, a former pub in Oxford’s Cornmarket is gearing up to be reopened.

Pints could be being pulled again in the Plough, opposite St Michael at the North Gate, as early as this Saturday as a complex renovation job of the 350-year-old building nears completion.

In what is thought to be the only time in Oxford a historic pub has been brought back to its former use, the opening marks a two and half year project which started when former occupiers Austin Reed moved out in 2016.

Local businessman Chris Mulhall, who also runs the 1855 wine bar in the Castle Quarter, is behind the idea and said he was ‘knocking on the administrator’s door’ as soon as he heard news the suit sellers were closing down.

He said: “We’ve seen pubs closing down everywhere, in every city in the UK, but that has just about plummeted out now.

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“I think given the number of students and tourists here and the relatively well-off demographic, there is an appetite for more pubs and we’re not yet saturated.

“As soon as I heard about it, I thought I had to have this building.”

Downstairs will be dedicated to drinks and coffee while casual dining and parties will take place upstairs.

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A partnership with Buckinghamshire-based XT brewery means beer is being brewed on site and piped straight to the taps.

It is hoped that in future chairs and tables could be installed out front and Mr Mulhall plans to tap into a growing food and drink based-renaissance of the street since the opening of the Westgate.

Situated on the site of the northern entrance to the city, the building was first registered as a pub in 1656 and operated as such until 1924 when Austin Reed took it over.

The renovation has retained many of the historic features including a 12th century fireplace that used to be at Osney Abbey and a grand wooden staircase.

Mr Mulhall said: “When we got in the building was a wreck, it was unbelievably bad and had suffered from 100 years of lack of investment.

“We’ve had to completely renovate it and the air conditioning, toilets and kitchen are all new.

“We’re taking it back to the arts and crafts style it would once have had and that in itself is very Oxford.

“It’s going to feel authentic but with modern elements.”

The pub will open early for coffee and pastries and offer food throughout the day before closing at midnight.

In the future it will host events such as distilling workshops and live piano music.

A partnership with City of Oxford college will see students brought in to be trained on the job.