WITNEY has the same number of pubs it did 30 years ago, which makes it “unique” in bucking the pub closure trend, say campaigners. The Oxford branch of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said no other UK market town had achieved this feat.

Only one Witney pub, The House of Windsor, has closed in the last three decades – it was in West End and shut in 2011. However, the town has gained a JD Wetherspoon pub.

The figures are in stark contrast to the picture across Oxfordshire, where 50 pubs have closed in five years.

Witney landlords believe the achievement is down to the town’s pub culture and its expansion, and think the trend may continue.

Tony Goulding, CAMRA Oxford pubs officer, said: “Witney is unique for the size of town that it has always had 24 pubs for the last 30 years.

“For a town of its size, for them to be almost intact is unprecedented in the country. It is absolutely amazing.”

But he did not know why the town’s trade had been so successful, when nationally 4,500 have shut in the last four years.

The Royal Oak landlord Lesley Semaine said: “It’s because Witney is such a thriving town. The councils have worked hard to keep the town clean, safe and prosperous and it is an attractive place for people to come to.

“People are also good at supporting their local pubs, shops and restaurants. It is a really good community.”

She added: “I’ve been here 28 years and we’ve all had bad times – the smoking ban and recession – but we seem to get past it. The future looks good.”

A handful of pubs have closed for short periods in Witney in the last three decades, including The Eagle Tavern and The Butchers Arms, but have all reopened.

The town has a long history with alcohol and a brewery has been based in the town for decades. The Wychwood Brewery currently operates from Witney.

In recent years the trade has matured, with bars such as Izi, Norton’s and Fat Lil’s opening and pubs diversifying into food and entertainment. Fat Lil’s owner Paul Spink said: “There are a lot of factors as to why pubs have not closed, but one might be there’s an embedded culture in Witney.

“People do not tend to move away and pubs are still part of the social fabric of Witney.”

Witney historian Stanley Jenkins said: “Market towns have a lot of pubs because it is where farmers met to do business. The town has expanded so customers have come in.”

He added that few establishments had been built in new estates, boosting town trade.