Community clubs

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: robin.jones8@me.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.

An update on the improvement works & other interesting things!

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

Well, well, well

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

The time has come. Our pub is reopening!

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 White House Community Kitchen

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 bladoncommunitypub@gmail.com or speak to Johnny directly at The White House Pub on 07415 183899.

Thank you for your support.

Bladon Community Benefit Society

A message from Johnny

Dear Residents of Bladon, Pub Shareholders, Volunteers and Pub Go-Ers!

I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your continued support during my first month of trading as The White House.

My first month in Bladon has been an absolutely fantastic experience. I have made so many new friends, and have met so many great people! We can’t wait to open our doors again to you all again. I really have been welcomed into this fantastic community and me and my family are proud to be a part of it and proud to live in Bladon.

We have lots of new and exciting beers coming soon. We have taken this lockdown and have used it to our advantage. The beer lines have been replaced to ensure the maximum quality in every pint to better your experience. We have 5 Brand new beers being installed on a new bar giving you 14 Draught Beers to choose from, and the cellar has had a new cooler installed to keep those draught temperatures perfect!

Thank you to everyone that has been patient with me and my team this past month. The first month is always a tricky one, but it has allowed me to learn the trends of the community, the correct stock levels, food preparation levels and so on… (I’m sure the wine drinkers will understand what I mean about stock levels!). Thank you to you all for the continued feedback, we are a community pub, and listening to the community and its needs is so important to us. I welcome feedback good or bad at any time. Please if anyone ever has a concern or question just pop over and we can have a chat, or feel free to call or email (thewhitehousebladon@hotmail.com).

We have our first week of takeaways under our belt so a massive thank you to those who have continued to support us during lockdown and ordered a meal, or pint or even a pack of toilet roll- every order helps regardless of size or cost!

Events

Don’t forget the White House Quiz Saturday 14th November at 19:30 the zoom link will be posted on all platforms tomorrow at 3pm. Donations are welcomed via our ‘gofund me’ https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thewhitehousebladon

You can join the quiz on Zoom on the following link 
https://us05web.zoom.us/j/7692773778?pwd=Y2dGemZUd3ZuMWN1SUpBdm5jNnNZUT09

Meeting ID: 769 277 3778
Passcode: TWH1

A bottle of ‘White House Red is given to the winners!

We look forward to seeing you!!

The Car Park

I would also like to use this time to address a concern in the village:

I fully understand the importance of the car park to Bladon and especially to those who collect their children at the school. I am in full support of the school and I will use the White House facilities to help the village of Bladon in any way, shape or form.

The White House must do its bit to support the community and those in it. On occasion its use has been abused by those travelling into Bladon to visit Blenheim, and this has caused us concern. Inconsiderate parking has stopped the pub bins from being collected twice now and on one occasion I was blocked in and couldn’t leave the car park to collect our son from nursery. In conjunction with the Bladon Community Benefit Society Committee, we are trying to come up with solutions for the future that will in no way negatively affect anyone who currently uses the car park for the school run. I am a firm believer in the community and the community must always come first! Please do come and have a chat with me if you ever experience any difficulties with parking.

We look forward to welcoming you all back very soon!

Kind regards,

Johnny Roberts
The White House

Future plans

Can you believe it has been a month since The White House re-opened as a community pub! It has been great to see so many people enjoying themselves and using the pub again, from coffee and croissants to an evening meal and a few drinks. 

As owners of the pub, the community has an amazing opportunity to further develop the building and its surroundings.  Please click here to see some of what we would like to achieve in 2021.

The White House is open :)

It has been 15 months since our first community consultation, and after an unbelievable level of generosity from our shareholders, an amazing amount of work from our volunteers and support from many local businesses, it is with a huge sense of pride we are able to announce The White House will re-open on Friday 9th October at 10am..

Our new tenant, Johnny Roberts, will be open seven days a week and now has his own website, facebook and instagram pages where you will find all the information you need.

If you are planning a visit we highly recommend booking a table through one of the following channels:

Website: www.bladonwhitehouse.co.uk/

Telephone: 01993811288

Facebook: @thewhitehousebladon

Email: thewhitehouse@hotmail.com



Another big push…can you help?

After another busy week down at the White House we are rapidly progressing to meet our target opening date. Over the weekend our fantastic group of volunteers helped out with painting furniture, gardening, fencing and more cleaning. We had professional volunteers helping with plumbing, electrics, tiling, kitchen fitting and carpentry. A huge thank you to all of you!

In addition, the commercial kitchen and pub toilets have received a full professional deep clean and are now ready to go.

All that said, we still need your help! There will be another big push this weekend as we complete the transformation of the pub with a full repaint. And if you don’t fancy painting we have plenty of other jobs on the list 🙂

Please sign up on our volunteer form if you can spare some time –

Almost there!

Pub Works Update

Wow, what a difference a week makes! We have seen HUGE progress over the last seven days thanks to our army of volunteers and some local contractors. Here is an update on what’s been happening down at the Bladon Community Pub.

The Garden

The team from Nicholsons Garden Design, Landscaping and Forestry did an amazing job over two days taking down the four unsafe trees in the garden. Most of Bladon got to witness them at work, hair-raising stuff!

Even better, Nicholsons have kindly donated five new trees (fruit bearing), one more than we had to fell, as well as a collection of sleepers and over 60 plants. Thanks to our gardening volunteers we now have freshly planted beds and window boxes. Fantastic! We were also able to make use of some of the wood, as chips for the garden. The rest of the wood has gone to be chipped, providing fuel for a biomass energy plant.

Other jobs in the garden included renovating and repainting the decking at the front of the pub, moving and fitting new fencing, and sanding and painting the last of the outdoor furniture.

The newly cleared garden area with fresh chips and new trees.

The Building

However, there is more to do than just the garden and the building also received some TLC. The pub chimney was fitted with a new flue liner, making it safe to operate the wood burning stove again, ready for winter. The tenant’s accommodation had a makeover, getting repainted throughout. Finally we have started work on renovating the pub interior, beginning with the furniture.

What’s Next?

Now our attention turns to the pub itself as we countdown to opening. Over the next two weeks the following jobs will be completed:

  • Seeding the bare areas of the garden, finishing off the fencing and giving the gardent a final tidy
  • Fitting a new kitchen to the tenant’s accommodation
  • Cleaning carpets and flooring throughout
  • Painting the pub – chairs, tables and front of house
  • Commercial deep cleaning of the pub kitchen and toilets
  • Preparation of the cellar – getting ready for beer!

Volunteers Needed!

As before, we are keeping our volunteer form updated with the time slots where we need help. Please fill in your details if you can help out.

Nearly there!