Sunday, 26 January 2014

Oak to be felled?

Rather depressing, but not entirely surprising, news that Holt’s brewery have put the Royal Oak in Eccles up for sale at a mere £170,000. It’s an impressive Grade II listed Edwardian pub that features on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The webpage gives a good impression of its magnificent, unspoilt interior.

However, the comment that it “may close early if no customers” tells its own story. It has been left high and dry by the dramatic shifts and contraction in the pub market in recent years. It has always been somewhat overshadowed by Holt’s two other impressive Edwardian pubs in Eccles – the Grapes and the Lamb.

If you listen to some people, the pubcos are constantly closing thriving pubs down to redevelop them as flats or convenience stores. But somehow I doubt whether potential free-trade buyers will be queueing up for this one, as they weren’t for this Cheshire pub I highlighted a while back.

Another chapter in the long, slow, sad decline of the British pub. If someone buys it and makes a go of it I’ll be gobsmacked. I don’t really expect Holt’s to apply a restrictive covenant.

27 comments:

  1. Prioessir Pie-Tin26 January 2014 at 20:50

    Mudgie lamenting the closure of a pub - check.
    Is it a big old barn of a monstrosity - check.
    Is it by the side of a busy road - check.
    Does anyone locally really care - check.

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  2. What's that load of auld shite on top o'the Rock of Cashel?

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  3. £170,000 for a place that size? Desperation doesn't even begin to describe is.

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  4. It is in Eccles...

    And, @Prof Pie-Tin, this is in the middle of a town, not in some isolated rural location.

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  5. Was it struggling before July 2007?
    We should be told.

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  6. Don't the poll, do I like to stand or sit? and then rather than a choice, always, sometimes?

    surely everyone always likes to either stand or sit unless they are lying down?

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  7. The poll is asking whether you like to stand or sit AT THE BAR as opposed to elsewhere in the pub.

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  8. Well, i like to lie under it in a drunken stupor, and once more there is no option for the likes of me :(

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  9. Be a shame to see such a great Victorian interior go.As you say always been overshadowed by the equally ornate Lamb and grapes.
    There's a lot of competition in a small area that inevitably there will be those who cannot continue to make a profit (Golden Lion next door,Wellington,Crown + Volunteer probably all within 200yards of the Royal Oak)
    Be another loss on the Camra Inventory and to some fine Victorian workmanship.

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  10. Great looking pub, what on earth is wrong with the good people of Eccles? If a pub like that was in Cambridge you'd be fighting to get into the door and give the barman your £4.30.

    Why don't you and Cookie chip together and buy it Mudgie?

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  11. Me chip in? He's not short of a bob, Mudge. If Mudge truly cared about pubs he'd buy it and run it. It's pin money to the likes of Mudge.

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  12. It is in Eccles

    Says it all, I'm afraid...

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  13. Yes, you can't remotely compare Eccles with Cambridge. Eccles is a very poor and run-down place and at least historically had a huge number of pubs. I think starting at the Grapes and finishing up in the Lamb or Royal Oak you could do about 10 Holts pubs along Liverpool Road. Many now closed, of course.

    It's sad to see the Royak Oak go but I would say any attempt to save it would be flogging a dead horse.

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  14. Bloody poor people, never drink where you think they should drink, do they!

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  15. Eccles is poor? Is there not much money in the cake business then? I like Eccles cakes. I'm more likely to eat one of them than go in a pub in Eccles.

    Maybe turn it into a tea room with Eccles cakes? I like tea rooms.

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  16. Yes but Lancashire Eccles Cakes are bases in Gorton.

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  17. Maybe it's time Eccles Cakes got a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

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  18. Gorton, where the f*ck is Gorton?

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  19. Was the infamous Holts 11 Mudgie :Grapes,Bird In Hand,Stanley,Bridgewater,White Lion,Golden Cross,Wellington,Royal Oak,Crown + Volunteer,Black Bull,Lamb of which 8 are still serving.
    Last couple of visits to the Royal Oak have been disapointing- very loud music played to a handfull of people.

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  20. I'm not hugely familiar with Eccles, although I did do much of that crawl in the late 80s as a guest of the Deal, Dover & Sandwich branch who were doing it as a daytrip! They were seasoned topers of vastly greater capacity than myself and my memories of the latter stages are rather vague. For several of them it would have been a 10-pint lunchtime between 11.30 and 3, this being before all-day opening.

    Your comments about the Royal Oak underline the point that you can have a shite pub in a magnificent building. And it always baffles me what bar staff hope to achieve by playing loud music at an audience of old blokes.

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  21. Martin, Cambridge27 January 2014 at 19:27

    Weren't some of the Steve Coogan series in the 90s filmed in the Royal Oak and the Lamb ? Only went to the Oak the once but felt like poor relative to the rest of Liverpool Road (the Sam Smiths pub is a classic). Eccles has the huge advantage over Cambridge of a decent transport system and a £2 a pint saving.

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  22. "it always baffles me what bar staff hope to achieve by playing loud music at an audience of old blokes."

    Perhaps all the pervy old blokes are putting off the fit young girls and so they're trying to drive them away like how they used that high pitched squealing to keep youngsters away from bus stops a few years back.

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  23. It's very short sighted, CAMRA. You'd have thought they would have campaigned for PGI for Eccles cakes knowing how important the cake economy was to Eccles and its pub viability.

    Next you'll be saying Chorley cakes are made in Bolton. :(

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  24. You're shattering my illusions here, Cookie. It's almost like saying Newcastle Brown Ale isn't brewed in Newcastle.

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  25. Part of me wonders whether the low price of the pub reflects a low value due to the reduced utility of legal restrictions.

    Lets face it, who'd bother buying a "heritage" gaff? Ten minutes after opening a beard would be signing people up to registering as an asset of community value.

    Safer to lease the empty shop on the high street than buy an old building with rotting wood and dodgy wiring that beardy people won't let you modernise.

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  26. Prepare to be gobsmacked! I know some people were looking at it and I was recently told that they had in fact bought it.

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  27. “The Royal Oak on Corporation Road seems welcoming, homely. An old lady sings into a microphone, a buxom beauty takes a drink at the bar and their beer tastes like manna. Oh heavenly bliss. A divine shelter from the demons that roam Eccles at night. I must have swallowed my fear because nobody’s looking at me as if I were a ghost […] My part of the pub is called The Vault, it reminds me of a 1930 or 1940 interior. Welcome to Goodnight Sweetheart. One of the lads gets the jukebox going as the old lady finishes her swan song. I think it was The Other Side of Things. Radiohead rising: Creep. Read my mind, mate! I order a beer, black as Whitby jet, then another one […]” From: Psychopath Week (eBook; 2013).

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