Sunday, January 22, 2006

A change for the worse?

Wow - one thing that has changed in the past few years is the Ampleforth Arms. Some of you may know that I once spent some time at the Benedictine abbey after which the pub is named, so I do have a special fondness for something so far away bearing the name. But when Mike, the landlord when I was councillor, was there the place was interesting. I know he always had problems with too little trade - I tried to get him a sign put up on the A40 advertising the fact that there was a pub with good home cooked food (ie way better than McDonalds for anyone looking for something to eat on the way into Oxford), but the pub was always quite homely and welcoming.

We went in there today for some relief from street surveying and it was like a barn somehow. We have to climb across in front of people watching the football on the big screen in the area that used to be the main eating area. A wall's been ripped out to make it all one big room so there's no room to hire if you want some private party or similar. And there's no food - worst of all. Mike's cullinary skills were legend. I seem to remember he even offered a delivery service to local pensioners who were housebound for a while. Today, nothing, or at least "only during summer months". Blimey. I'd starve if I didn't eat for six months!

Do you use the Ampleforth? What do you think of it now? It seems to me that it's become a typical "estate pub" - a barn of a place with very little to recommend it unless you want to watch the big screen (which at least used to be in the other room so you didn't need to disturb fans just to get to the bar or out the door). Yet it's in the right place to be the centre of a community.

I'll reserve judgement till I've been up one evening. You really can't tell the whole story from a Sunday lunch. But I won't be surprised to find it a similar atmosphere of an evening. Maybe the "local" is simply a dying institution. That would be sad. I'd love that whole parade to be the centre of this pretty isolated community. I'd better go reintroduce myself to Mr Ghandi as well. I see his property empire has gone from strength to strength in the intervening years.

5 Comments:

At 16:46, Blogger Tom Steuart-Feilding said...

Hey Jock

Where abouts is the Ampleforth pub? I am an Old Amplefordian and wasn't aware of a pub of that name.

 
At 00:46, Anonymous Blink said...

If the Ampleforth is, as you suggest, got any more then two or three customers in it then it musy be getting better!

I have not been in since it was redeveloped and I have to say the atmospere then was about as bright as a broken bulb!

 
At 07:46, Blogger Jock Coats said...

Tom, I recognise the name. The Ampleforth Arms is the one pub on the Risinghurst estate which is the bit of Oxford on the left hand side of the A40 as you come in from Wheatley/London before you get to the roundabout. It's address is...Downside Road!

When I first stood for election there in 1999 I asked about it, because when I went in all the fixtures and fittings were of the same style of wood and the ceilings very similar to the cloister - especially rooms like the calefactory at the abbey. The story goes that the foreman who worked on the abbey in the 20s? then returned to Oxford and built a couple of pubs - one is the Somerset House on Marston Rd and the other the Ampleforth Arms. I was always rather pleased that Ampleforth got the pub and Downside just the street name...:)

blink: Mike did at least try, and it was never as bad with him in my memoory as it was the other day. But the arrangement of rooms doesn't help now as you've got to enter the pub right across the view of the big screen TV (so that they could make the corner room a no smoking area I suspect).

 
At 12:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I WAS THINKING OF APPLYING FOR A JOB AT AMPLEFORTH BUT I'M HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS NOW, I WOULDN'T HAVE THOUGHT A PUB COULD HAVE SUCH BAD COMMENTS. I MUST ADMIT I HAVE NEVER BEEN THERE, AS I'M NOT A FOOTBALL FAN AND I DON'T DRINK. BUT I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO WORK THERE AS IT IS CLOSER TO WHERE I LIVE.

 
At 12:08, Blogger Jock Coats said...

I wouldn't let us put you off. It could be the real heart of a community pretty isolated by the ring road and A40. It probably just needs some support. The previous landlord, even though he had a "knack", never wholly succeeded either. It's just what happens to "estate pubs" when more people are prepared to go into town.

 

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