OXFORD’S newest pub is hoping to help people beat their dry January blues as it holds a series of soft openings this month.

After the finishing touches took longer than expected, the Plough in Cornmarket Street is now set to be fully open by early February.

In the meantime locals are being invited to have a look around and a drink as the last details are ironed out.

Steve Jones, who is helping to manage the bar, said launching in the traditionally quiet post New Year period could actually work in their favour.

He said: “It gives us a chance to ensure everything is fully ready and working properly before we expect to get busier.

“Oxford is an all year round place and the visitors don’t stop in January so we’re not worried.

“We didn’t want to open before we are ready. Currently we’re not doing food but people are welcome to come in and see what it’s like before the grand opening.”


Publicans across Oxford will be searching for ways to boost trade this month as the increasing popularity of Dry January takes it toll.

In December polling company YouGov estimated that 4.2 million people were planning to take part this year – a 1.1million increase on 2018.

The Plough’s owner Chris Mulhall, who also runs the 1855 wine bar in the Castle Quarter, said the initiative ‘wasn’t helping’ the industry.

He said: “In a way it’s good for us as it means we can address any glitches before we are inundated.

“But it means people are spending less and that is hurting the industry as a whole.

“Personally I’d advocate drinking responsibly all year round but if people feel they need a break from over-consumption then I get that.”

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Chris Meeson, landlord at the award-winning Mason’s Arms in Headington, said the initiative could be ‘crippling’ for some smaller pubs.

He said: “It’s not helpful. We’ve been quieter after Christmas but I’ve heard that it affects others a lot worse.

“It’s no secret the pub trade isn’t what it used to be.

Oxford Mail:

“Lots are struggling and you have to pay your bills in January, the same as every month.

“I think a trip to the local is best way to beat those January blues.”

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A study released by Oxford researchers this week has found those who drink in moderation in pubs appear to be happier with their lives.

Professor Robin Dunbar, of the experimental psychology department, found those who visited their local regularly were more satisfied and had more friends.

In an attempt to tempt in non-drinkers, The Grapes in George Street is offering free tasters of Seedlip, the ‘world’s first non-alcoholic spirit’, with tonic.

Manager Mark Bruce said it was for people ‘fed up’ of soda and lime.