ABINGDON’S High Street is getting a new bar - opposite the new gin joint on the same busy route.

The Mercer is about to open selling locally brewed beers, and wines, following the conversion of the former Stan James bookmakers.

It was announced last year that a gin bar and smokehouse called The Old Chemist is to open on the other side of High Street where Smith’s chemists was located for more than a century.

READ AGAIN: Gin bar and restaurant to open at former chemist's in Abingdon

Joel Collins, 27, is to run The Mercer with business partner James Salter and expects to open within weeks.

The former estate agent said: “The building has a history of textiles which is why we chose the name.

“We are looking to create a bar with a city vibe in a town setting because Abingdon doesn’t really have that at the moment.

Oxford Mail:

“It’s a free house so we will be serving beer made by local craft breweries including Abingdon brewery Loose Cannon and we will also be serving wines.

“We want the bar to help bring some life back to the High Street and offer something a little bit different.”

READ AGAIN: Cheers! More Oxfordshire pubs added to Good Beer Guide 2019

Mr Collins said workmen were now completing the finishing touches to the refurbishment and were ‘not too far away’ from opening but there is no opening date yet.

The young entrepreneur said the bar would concentrate on serving drinks once it opened but he added he expected food to be served in the future.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Collins said: “First the focus will be drinks but after we have been open for a while we will look to serve some food, locally sourced cheeses and charcuterie boards.

“We will probably have to wait until a few weeks after we have opened before we consider adding food menus.”

Mr Collins said he expected The Mercer to open before The Old Chemist, which is expected to open on Good Friday.

Oxford Mail:

READ MORE: Change of use application to turn former Abingdon chemist into gin bar and restaurant

Even though The Mercer is in close proximity to The Old Chemist, The Narrows run by Wetherspoon, and The Grapes, Mr Collins said they would not be in direct competition.

Drinkers will now have a much better choice in High Street and popular pub The Brewery Tap, on the site of the former Morland Brewery, is just a short walk away in Ock Street.

READ MORE: Prize-winning brewery Loose Cannon is rapidly expanding

Other well-known pubs in or close to the town centre include the White Horse pub in Ock Street, run by Greene King, The King’s Head & Bell in East St Helen Street, The Crown & Thistle and The Broad Face in Bridge Street, and the Nags Head on Abingdon Bridge.

Pubs right in the centre include The Punchbowl in Market Place, and The Blue Boar and The Black Swan in Bath Street.

Town council leader Mike Badcock said the new bars would liven up the town centre.

He added: “They are both a different type of drinking establishment - the more traditional pubs are perhaps not so popular with young people.

“I think this should encourage the night-time economy in Abingdon.”