Hassrale Trips: Oxford

Date: Saturday 29th September 1990

The Town

After a visit made to Cambridge last year it would seem sensible to now arrange a visit to the other famous University town. Oxford is the home of Morrells brewery which is the reason why there is a surfeit of pubs from that brewery. However there are a large range of other pubs which make it an interesting place to visit. The town itself lies on the river Isis (Thames to us) and is an interesting town to tour with its "Dreaming spires".

Transport

Trains to Oxford leave at 20 past the hour from 10:00 although the earlier train to that is at 9:50. The journey length is about an hour and I would suggest the 10:20 which arrives at 11:22. Trains back are at differing times but the last three trains are at 20:00, 21:35 and 22:25.

The Pubs

On leaving the station proceed down onto the main road and turn left. Proceed down until you reach Hollybush Row. Turn right and proceed past the Albion (now a fizz pub). We then come to St Thomas Street where we turn left to find:

1. Marlborough Arms, 5 St Thomas Street [12:00]

Beers: Morrells Dark Mild, Bitter

Comments: One bar pub right next to Morrells brewery. The only outlet for mild in Oxford.

We now continue along St Thomas Street that should lead us back into Park End Street. Just back in Park End Street and across the road is:

2. Queens Arms, 1 Park End Street [12:45]

Beers: Morrells Bitter

Comments: A large rambling one bar pub next to the river. Bar snacks available both hot and cold. CD Juke box and pool table.

Turn left out of the pub and continue down Park End Road and eventually bear right into New Road to find on your left:

3. Westgate, 12 New Road [13:30]

Beers: Morrells Bitter and Varsity

Comments: Large and comfortable modern one bar pub decorated with old Morrells brewery mementoes, posters and brewing equipment. Opened in 1982 as part of the breweries bicentenary celebrations. Does meals and snacks at lunchtime although I thought it was quite expensive. Some involvement with CAMRA. A bit noisy with a CD Juke box but you can escape into the garden if the weather permits.

Continue along New Road and into Queen Street and at the end of this road turn right into St Aldgates to find on your right:

4. Bulldog, St Aldgates [14:15]

Beers: Courage Best, Directors, Banks Bitter

Comments: At last a change from Morrells. A strange pub with a plethora of TV screens (I counted 8 in one bar). All were showing the same thing and at the time of the trial it was Sky Sports channel. In spite of this it seemed a nice pub which seemed to specialise in food. The permanent guest beer was in excellent condition and not over expensive. The pub is open all day so could be one to return to later.

Turn right out of the pub and a short way down on the same side we find:

5. Old Tom, St Aldgates [15:15]

Beers: Morrells Bitter and Varsity

Comments: An excellent pub which has appeared in the Good Beer Guide for a number of years. The name of the pub derives from the famous Old Tom bell in the tower of Christ Church opposite which rings 101 times at 9:05 pm every night to signify the 101 original students of the college. Does food at lunchtime and also has a garden which is partially covered. The beer and food are excellent. Well worth a visit. Closes at 3pm.

We now retrace our footsteps to the crossroads and turn right into the High Street. There is supposed to be a pub just off this road called the Wheatsheaf but we could not find it. Further down on your right we find:

6. Chequers, 131a High Street [16:00]

Beers: Hook Norton Bitter, Ind Coope Burton, Tetley Bitter, Wadworths 6X

Comments: Did not have the full range on when we visited. Well restored 15th century inn with Elizabethan structure in a courtyard. A priory once stood on the site. The monks bar is so named because a number of friars were banished from the city when they became too familiar with nuns in neighboring quarters. Those were the days! There is a refectory bar upstairs. Pub opens all day and food is served until 2:15 pm. For those who are sporting minded there are two table football games.

Continue along the High Street and turn left into Catte Street. A the corner of Holywell Street you will find:

7. Kings Arms, 40 Holywell Street [16:45]

Beers: Adnams Bitter, Fullers London Pride, Wadworths 6X, Brakespears Bitter (range may vary)

Comments: A free house offering the widest range of beers in the county. Large and popular 17th century pub with a number of bars. Does food from 5:30 pm. Former Tolly Cobbold tied house.

Now it may get complicated. Continue along Holywell Street to find a back alley on the right hand side named Bath Place. Proceed down there and thus into the garden of:

8. Turf Tavern, 4 Bath Place (off Holywell Street) [17:45]

Beers: A varying range that will probably include Glenny Whitney Bitter, Marstons Pedigree and (unfortunately) a number of Whitbreads beers.

Comments: A must to visit in Oxford although I now have doubts of its claim to be a free house. Also does a number of ciders. A 13th century tavern with two gardens and a patio. These are very important as the pub with its low beams does get very full. Very hard to find. Opens all day.

Get back into Holywell Street and proceed past the Kings Arms and straight across into Broad Street. Walk the length of this street and into George Street. Across the road and on your left is:

9. Grapes, 7 George Street [18:45]

Beers: Morrells Bitter and Varsity

Comments: Narrow Victorian pub with attractive original exterior opposite the Apollo Theatre so can get crowded when a performance is on. Does food all day and up to 9pm. Pub stays open all day. The food looked a little expensive but does an all day breakfast. Just one bar.

On leaving the pub turn left and take the first turning on the left down into St Michaels Street (The venue for the Oxford Beer Festival) to find:

10. Three Goats Head, 3a St Michaels Street [ 19:45]

Beers: Sam Smiths Bitter and Museum Ale

Comments: Oxfords newest pub with a bar upstairs and down in the basement. Was reasonably quiet at the time of the trial with just background music. Beer was of good quality. Seemingly the inspiration for its decor came from the Oxford Union next door.

Continue along George Street and into Hythe Bridge Street to find:

11. Nags Head, 1 Hythe Bridge Street [20:45]

Beers: Halls Best bitter, Burton and Addlestone Cider

Comments: The last pub on the trip and a place to refresh yourself before the long journey home. A two bar pub on Fisher Island. Does food up until 9pm. The prices were not cheap but what is? Beer was in good nick.

Continue down Hythe Bridge Street and back into Park End Street which will lead you back to the station. Bon Voyage.

This trip was trialled by Dave Saffery and Martin Williams with a long break in between to visit the beer festival. On that basis I cannot guarantee the details.


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