The advert for a new tenant has gone out to appropriate outlets
I have recently taken over as Chair of the Bladon Community Pub Management Committee from Mike Edwards, who has stepped down as Chair due to work commitments, but remains active on the committee. As a recent retiree I do fortunately now have more time to commit to this important role, and I am very happy to do so.
In my first communication to you the shareholders, I have to inform you that our current tenant, Johnny Roberts, has handed in his formal resignation, and will be leaving once he has completed an agreed period of notice. We have started the work of identifying his successor, and I will update you on progress as we go through this process. We are also working closely with Johnny to ensure that the handover to his replacement will be as smooth as possible, and with minimal disruption to trade.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank Johnny for all his efforts, in often very challenging circumstances, to re-establish the pub as a community asset to the village, and wish him and his family well for the future.
Chair, Bladon Community Benefit Society
Happy New Year to everyone.
I hope the title of a free drink for shareholders has got your attention!
It has been a busy year at The White House and we are now approaching the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for all pub shareholders as members of the Bladon Community Benefit Society. We will be holding our AGM on:
Tuesday 1st March 2022 at 7.30pm in The White House pub.
All shareholders will have a free drink waiting for them behind the bar so please do come on down. The AGM is for shareholders only so the pub will be closed to the general public during the meeting.
We will briefly outline the progress we have made over the last year and the plans for the future. The rules of our Society specify that we need 10% of our membership to be present in order to be quorate. That equates to 47 people so please do come along. Your first drink will be free but the bar will remain open to purchase drinks thereafter so I hope you stay after the formalities are over.
All 8 members of the committee have expressed an interest to remain in post. If any shareholder would like to join the committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Society rules dictate that we should have no more than 10 committee members. If this is exceeded we will take a vote at the AGM.
I look forward to seeing you on St David’s Day, 1st March, in our pub for a drink.
With Christmas fast approaching we are all hoping that we can have something approaching a normal celebration and that the pub can be a big part of that for everyone.
It has been a challenging few months with the ongoing building works but we now have modern, top quality toilet facilities with disabled facilities and baby changing for the first time ever. It has brought our pub right up to date at last thanks to Blenheim Palace/Pye Homes and your backing.
We are waiting for 2 separate subcontractors to move the gas meter and move the cellar cooling fans before we can call the builders back from Pye Homes/Renelec to finish their work. They will then render the outside where the new cellar is at the front of the pub as well as the outside of the new toilet block and finish the outstanding list of jobs.
With our Masterchef Ben Bullen creating a stir with the food it became very clear the limited resources and space available to him and his team were not coping with the increase in demand. We have invested in a large cold room to enable him to expand his menu and cater for the increasing numbers who want to dine at our pub. The cold room is already being built at the rear of the pub near the snug bar. The slight loss of view from one of the snug windows will be made up by the expansion of our tiny kitchen capabilities. Any ideas of how we can dress up the cold room are gratefully accepted. The more fun the idea the better!
When we brought the proposal of a community pub to the village we asked what you wanted our community pub to be. We already have a successful quiz evening on a Wednesday, the Crib team on a Monday, coffee morning on a Thursday and live music once a month. Robin and Johnny are adding activities to that list and we took the decision to leaflet the whole village with present activities and future plans. Please bring more of your ideas to Johnny, or the committee, for groups and activities you want to see and can help bring together. The pub is already morphing through the day from community hub into a fantastic dining destination and then into being a fantastic local pub. Let’s work together to strengthen the pub as the heart of our community.
At the end of February/start of March, we will have the pub AGM. It is important we have as many people as possible attending. As a committee we have decided to entice you down by offering a free drink on arrival so I expect to see you all there (including you from far afield who can now fly/drive in to join us!). We will update you on those plans as 2022 approaches and get Johnny to stock up!
We have made big steps forward with the fabric of the building and the pub facilities. As a new year approaches we need the community to steer the future of the pub to become the heart of Bladon and to remember that phrase we keep returning to: Use it or lose it.
I look forward to seeing you all down there over the festive season and into the New Year.
Would you like to see some community activities held at The White House Bladon during the day? Maybe a Whist drive, Bridge club, Bingo, a meet and a chat….??? Two of the committee, from the Bladon Community Benefit Society Committee will be in the pub on Wednesday 13th October from 2-3 pm to listen to you. Please come along and share your ideas or just come along and have a chat and let us know what you want from your community pub. We’d love to see you.
Oh and don’t forget that every Wednesday night is Quiz Night in The White House starting at 8pm with a chance to win a rolling jackpot every week. It’s a great quiz run by our very own local quiz master, Richard Conway. See you there!
The Committee representing the shareholders and the views of locals, expressed prior to the purchase of The White House, recognise it is little over a year since the community, acquired The White House and despite several lockdowns it is already becoming a focal point for many residents – long may it continue! The committee is now endeavouring to see if your wishes can be accommodated and our Tennant, Johnny, is totally committed to working with us to achieve a flourishing meeting hub.
To further increase the social ‘togetherness’ of the village a Cribbage (generally known as Crib) team has been organised and a team has been entered into the Witney Crib League with the option of members to enter individually or as pairs into various other Crib competitions. Anyone interested in joining the Crib group please contact Robin Jones either by ’phone 01993 811484 or e-mail: email@example.com. The more people in the group the better and who knows, if there are sufficient players, we may be able to enter 2 teams next year!
To endeavour to foster further Community involvement an interest meeting will be held on Tuesday 5th October at 7.00pm at The White House to see if there is a group who could form The Bladon Community Rotary Club. Rotary is a worldwide non-political, non-religious organisation and is open to all genders in academia, profession or business however large or small, whether they be supervisors, managers, or directors; these categories depend upon the way different companies are structured. If this might be something which interests you, please come along to hear about Rotary.
To encourage those residents who would appreciate an Afternoon Activity an interest meeting will be held at The White House on Wednesday 13th October at 2.00pm to see in there is an interest in having a Whist Drive or something similar on regular basis in OUR PUB. Please come along and share your ideas.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the above Interest Meetings.
There have been some interesting times at The White House recently and I have been waiting for a point when we can update you with all that is happening in our pub and there is plenty to tell.
Our tenants Johnny and Fran became parents for the second time a few weeks ago. Athena Grace Joyce arrived on the 25th August and we wish them many congratulations. Some of you may be able to give me exact dates but it must be a while since a new baby has been born to the tenants of the pub. Johnny did what all fathers do the very next day. He was held up at knife point by an attempted armed robbery at the pub! Harry was there as back up and they chased the balaclava clad robbers away. Eight police cars and vans then arrived but unfortunately they had already left the scene. With that reception we very much hope that they will not be back!
It makes talk of building work seem very dull but it has been our biggest headache over summer as many of you will know. We still have a building site with those unsightly toilets at the front which we thought would be temporary but have unfortunately become all too familiar to us.
As you are probably aware, Blenheim Palace, through their company Pye Homes, are funding most of the cost for our new toilet facilities. Their subcontractor was not on site for over 4 weeks and we are now well over our expected finish date. We had a meeting last week and the good news is the end is now in sight. The new toilets are tiled, the first coat of paint is on and all the sanitary ware is waiting to be plumbed in. As long as covid doesn’t hit the workforce we are told we can expect to have the toilets in operation in 2 weeks’ time when and we can wave farewell to that temporary unit outside, at last.
In the face of all this adversity Liz Owen and her gardening volunteers have done a remarkable job with the outside of the pub. If you compare a year ago to the how the pub now looks in full bloom (unfortunately having to poke out from behind building equipment in places) it is simply outstanding. Thank you to Liz and her team.
Many of you will know Ben Bullen, who is taking over as Johnny’s new head chef. Ben comes with an amazing pedigree and has already reconstructed the kitchen to his liking. His first menu will be small as he builds up a knowledge of what we and our guests want and just as importantly what the kitchen can cope with. The kitchen is small, with no room to expand so they have already been very creative with their working arrangements in there. For table bookings and menus please go to Johnny’s website https://www.bladonwhitehouse.co.uk/
With regard to what we the shareholders want, and our visiting guests from near and far expect, it will always be difficult for Johnny and Ben to please everyone. We know some will want a Gastro Pub and some will want a Social Club as well as many wanting a whole range in between. Johnny, Ben and the team will steer a path to please as many as possible. We know Ben’s food will be outstanding and Johnny aims to keep it in a price range for all but it will be forever evolving as they move forward.
The pub will change its role throughout the day. It is our hub in the village and now we can see some glimmers of normal life returning, we can start using it as such. We already have a weekly quiz night every Wednesday at 8pm and we really want more teams to come and take part in what is a fun evening out. Robin Jones on the committee has made an excellent start with a new crib team up and running and is entered into the local league. His thoughts and ideas are below. Please remember these are all ideas put forward from the community when we set out to save the pub. All these activities, and the actual pub itself, rely on them being patronised. It is an old adage but “Use it or lose it” is very true for all aspects of our pub. I can’t drink all that ale on my own (although Clare says I do try.)
The VJ day commemorations went very well. The RAF flew their Spitfire and Hurricane over the pub (Sir Winston’s grave being close was a pure coincidence naturally). We hosted many veterans and members of the Churchill family and these events, linked to the history of our pub will now grow and grow. Thank you to Townhouse taxis who ferried the veteran’s home for free. The day ended up as a real community effort!
So as I pass you over to Robin I hope my next message will be with news of functioning toilets, the departure and good riddance to our temporary toilets, news of pub clubs being formed and no stories of masked raiders with knives.
Mike – Chair, Bladon Community Benefit Society
Building work is now well underway at our pub with some of the accompanying noise, mess and disruption however,Johnny is still fully open for business and the warm weather has finally decided to make an appearance.
These pictures are of what was once our cellar. Under the back wall the builders found an old well. Johnny was all up for tapping into it and using it to brew our own White House beer. However, the reality is it put work on hold for a while but things are now moving forward again. Following our well discovery the cellar floor was dug up revealing, yes another floor below. That was lifted by the digger and naturally we exposed a third floor. No wonder the roof in that old cellar was so low! The builders are now over a foot lower than they expected and the concrete requirement is doubling with every new level discovered.
Meanwhile, at the front you may have seen progress on the extension of our new cellar behind the temporary toilet. We hope this will be completed first and put straight into use. Storage is a huge issue for Johnny as you can see by the requirement for the temporary shed that has arrived at the car park and the need to use every nook, cranny and corner.
We appreciate the temporary toilets are not ideal however, many have said they are better than the old Gents! We are trying to keep the additional mess and noise down to a minimum. Work scheduled to be completed before opening hours has occasionally overrun. That has seen a live electric cable being cut during lunch service, the volunteers boring holes in the pub wall for 3 hours achieving break through as the first customers arrived, and our ancient plumbing system springing a leak under the bar requiring an emergency call out as the pipe in questioned threatened to turn into a showerhead at the slightest touch.
No doubt there will be more unexpected issues as we progress so we ask for your continued understanding but it will be worth the wait. We will put up a large copy of the building plans to show what awaits us all when this work is finally completed.
To steal the words of the man who had his drinking education in our pub, these works are not the beginning of the end. They are only the end of the beginning. The pub has never been tested to this degree before in terms of food and drink preparation, storage and consumption. For example, one area we will need to address is the electric supply. As the name suggests The White House was just a simple house and has the single phase electricity supply you would expect for a house. Any commercial operation needs a 3 phase supply to stop the constant tripping of the electrics. We are getting quotes for this work and will put a roadmap together of how we hope to progress with dragging our pub’s infrastructure into the 21st century over the coming years whilst keeping the originality and character of our historic pub.
Enjoy the weather and see you in our pub garden
Finally we are just days away from being able to sit (outside) our pub and have a drink!!
There has been a hive of activity to get ready for opening but also in preparation to carry out the most ambitious upgrade the pub has seen for decades.
Johnny has sent out updates of his plans and will continue to do so as we open outside and then plan for reopening of the inside. You will see his team, with volunteers, have made our White House, white once again!
Last weekend we had a fantastic turn out of volunteers and under Liz Owen’s leadership we have transformed our pub’s outside areas.
Under the guidance of Andy Goodwin from Willow Coppice in Eynsham, and Justen Hyde as his apprentice, we now have 3 stunning willow fences. Thanks to all who lent a blistered hand in creating something of real beauty. All made from natural materials gathered and prepared by volunteers over 2 weekends. Thanks to Ross in Eynsham for letting us have the willow and bringing it to the pub in 4 trailer loads.
The “John Anson” top lawn, where previously there was nothing but mud, is now a luscious green. Tables will be placed there, awaiting us to use in the (hopefully) blazing spring sunshine. Justen and his team of workers have built a brilliant set of spiral stairs up to the lawn. In time, the far corner will have the addition of some children’s play equipment.
Over the weekend the volunteers cleared all the bark chipping and levelled the areas. Now with some garden membrane down and re-barked, we should have space for level, weed free eating and drinking complete with new flag stones leading up from the pub.
The very annoying, and messy, bank of “kitty litter” out the front has been wheelbarrowed away, levelled and slate chipping laid for a brand new seating area. All of the outdoor seating has been scrubbed, sanded down and repainted by our fabulous team of volunteers.
Nolan and Sarah have done a great job out front and are awaiting delivery of our wooden trellis (held up in the Suez canal??!) to provide a little more privacy and sound insulation for those sitting at the front of the pub. However it did highlight the bulge in our front wall. A long-time resident told me it was caused a decade or two ago when a lorry managed to hit it. If you have walked past recently you will see we now have a nice, missing section awaiting the rebuild. Liz and Justen will be leading a small team, under the guidance of Richard from our village, to have the wall back up ready for Monday’s opening.
Last but not least, for the garden we have Pete the Pergola supplying his time at a much reduced rate to erect two pergolas. They will cover the top patio areas with sailcloth strung up to provide shelter from rain or blazing sun but easily unclipped when you want to capture the weaker sun’s rays.
As you know we are just awaiting planning permission from WODC to carry out our building work that will include all upgraded toilet facilities as well as a new disabled toilet and baby changing facilities. This will mean that from the start of the work we will not have use of the pub’s toilet facilities. When the time comes we have arranged a good quality, temporary toilet trailer parked at the front corner of the building so we can make use of the buildings sanitation facilities. It will only be a short dash from the front door to our temporary Ladies and Gents. When the work is completed it will be a great improvement inside for the long term future of our pub so we do ask for your understanding during this time.
So, we are definitely on countdown now to using our pub again. It may be a few weeks of wrapping up warm but hopefully we will get some of that fabulous weather we had last year. And I can finally say: “See you down the pub next week for a drink”. That sounds good doesn’t it!
The Bladon Community Benefit Society are opening The White House Community Kitchen in order to provide free hot food to local people who need support in Bladon and the surrounding villages. In conjunction with the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign we have seen that there is a real need to provide a hot nutritious meal to the vulnerable in our local area. This pandemic has hit those who are most vulnerable incredibly hard, so we aim to provide a free hot meal to anyone who needs it, young or old. No one should go to bed hungry or worry where their next meal is coming from.
We have applied for grant funding but this is not guaranteed, so in order to start providing this service we have set up this crowdfunding page to support our efforts. All donations are very welcome.
Every £5 you give provides someone with a free hot meal delivered to their door, so we really are incredibly grateful for any money you can spare. The fantastic team at the White House pub, along with volunteers, will be able to cook and deliver a hot meal to those who are vulnerable or unable to get out to buy food. Please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-white-house-community-kitchen to donate.
If you know someone who could benefit from this service or you are that person, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to Johnny directly at The White House Pub on 07415 183899.
Thank you for your support.
Bladon Community Benefit Society