The ex-owner of a popular Oxford restaurant recalled colourful memories of his time owning it, including being blasted through a van’s backdoors by gas.

James Harker owned The Nosebag, on St Michael’s Street, between 1974 and 1979.

The restaurant opened in 1971 and has been a constant feature of the city centre for 50 years. However, it will shut its doors for the final time at 6pm today when it closes down permanently.

READ MORE: Oxford restaurant The Nosebag closes down after 50 years

Oxford Mail: James Harker with The Nosebag manager Mandy Craigan. Picture: Ed NixJames Harker with The Nosebag manager Mandy Craigan. Picture: Ed Nix

Mr Harker said the restaurant’s “longevity is an effective statement of how good it was and has been”.

“I am happy it has done so well for such a long period, it will go down in the annals of history of Oxford.

“I am happy to have been associated with and done by bit,” he added.

The way Mr Harker heard about the restaurant closing was “unusual” as he was queueing up for fish and chips in Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear, 250 miles from Oxford.

While waiting in the queue he spoke with the couple in front of him, who turned out to be from Oxfordshire.

He mentioned he once owned The Nosebag and they revealed to him that it was closing down.

Mr Harker visited the restaurant on Tuesday afternoon on the way home from Whitley Bay to enjoy a final cup of coffee and say he was there at “the final point”.

From his time owning The Nosebag, Mr Harker has several colourful memories and experiences.

In one example, Mr Harker recalled how he had purchased a food delivery van for the restaurant to take around the city.

He said: “Two or three people operated the van and we had a gas tank onboard to heat the ovens. I went in to take the van out, I lit the match and put it underneath to fire up the boiler.

“However, somebody had left the gas tap on and I was blown out the backdoor with singed hair and eyebrows.”

Oxford Mail: The Nosebag. Picture: Ed Nix The Nosebag. Picture: Ed Nix

Another time, he was approach by a man who asked him to employ an ex-prisoner that was being rehabilitated.

The woman, who had been involved in a bank robbery in London, “decided the wage wasn’t good enough for her” and staged a strike outside the restaurant.

The, unsuccessful, strike action attempted to get The Nosebag closed down.

READ MORE: Oxford restaurant The Nosebag closes down today

Mr Harker also remembered two teenage dishwashers who were employed by the business.

Rather than cleaning the dirty cutlery, the girls dropped it down the dishwasher thinking it would disappear into the drains.

Instead of disappearing like they hoped, it just blocked the machine up.


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