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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Great news, we have the exciting update that we have now appointed a tenant. If everything goes to plan The White House will be open in early October. There is still lots to do. We need your help to get the final jobs completed so please sign up below and look out for emails and social media announcements. It feels like all of the hard work is about to pay off!
After a very thorough recruitment process we are very pleased to announce that Johnny Roberts will be our tenant. Johnny wanted to introduce himself, so here he is!
“My name is John Roberts but everybody calls me Johnny. I was born in Oxford and lived here for 18 years before moving to Kingston upon Thames to study Marketing. My partner Francesca and little boy Ruben are both excited for this new adventure in Bladon, integrating with the fantastic community. We are proud to call Bladon our new home.I started working in pubs while I was at University in Kingston upon Thames. I immediately fell in love with the social aspect of working in the food and drinks industry, getting to know new people and listening to the stories they have to share. It wasn’t until my return to Oxford in 2018, and a management promotion, that I started developing a passion for Food and Drink, especially Real Ale and craft beer.
The last few years I have homed in on Real Ale and really bonded with the brewing community and CAMRA (campaign for real ale) here in Oxford. I’ve developed a burning passion for supporting local breweries and my hard work and passion has been on display at The Four Candles, George Street.
I remember reading the story of the Bladon Community Pub on social media and being completely inspired by the hard work and dedication from the community to save their local pub. I instantly fell in love with the idea and wanted to be a part of this fantastic project. The buzz and excitement for The White House is so inspiring and it will be an absolute pleasure to represent this great pub as the tenant alongside my Head Chef David Fowler.
We aim to create ‘more than just a pub’ at The White House, bringing the pub and the community closer together. In my opinion the pub is a very important aspect of village life, it should serve the community and be a focal point for everyone to enjoy. Creating the perfect balance is an exciting opportunity for me and my team, we will combine Café style food for the morning and afternoons with a combination of wholesome pub classics and finer dining in the evenings. But let’s not forget about the Sunday Roasts that will be a prominent feature of our menu. It’s important for me to keep things local, from the guest ales and craft beers, to the food on the menu, we pledge to keep things as local as possible wherever possible. So, if you like locally sourced meat and beers from your favourite brewers here in Oxfordshire, then I look forward to welcoming you at The White House (hopefully very soon!).”
We cannot wait to open the doors of The White House and make it a central part of Bladon life for all of the community, but we need your help. There is a lot to do to prepare The White House for opening. Please sign up here to volunteer and keep an eye out for emails with further details.
As we move steadily towards opening there are still many jobs we need to complete and we need your help! Jobs to complete include further site tidying, cleaning, painting, groundworks, light gardening, planting – basically all sorts of things needing all sorts of skills. We would love to get as many of you involved as possible, it will speed things along and also allow you to see what is happening down on site.
There are some areas where we need to bring in professionals. That means for the next few weeks we will be limiting volunteer access to site to weekends.
Every week we will post updates through email and social media on what is needed. The place to get involved is at the volunteer sign-up form which will be updated weekly. We are keeping the slots short to make them manageable, but if you have more time then feel free to sign up to multiple slots. However, please do not come to site without first getting in touch and receiving confirmation, we need to keep track of numbers and maintain safe social distancing.
This is the exciting part and we can’t wait to see you!
We have had continued interest from those that missed the chance to invest during the initial share offering. We are therefore pleased to announce that we have re-opened the share offer. The share offer will now stay open until we hit our originally specified maximum target of £515,000.
With all your great support we raised enough money to buy the pub, but there are still many improvements we would like to make to the site. Further funding will also provide us with a welcome buffer during the uncertain times that we are currently operating under. Any money invested now will be used to continue renovations as we prepare for opening or to fund future enhancements to the site.
If you want to support us via investment or donation please follow the links below.
If you are not available this weekend, or have skills that would be better used on other aspects of the project such as hard landscaping, plumbing, plastering, building, making soft furnishings, please don’t worry about not being able to help this weekend. Due to social distancing we may not be able to have everyone who wants to help on site for this first job but there will be more opportunities to get involved in the coming weeks.
Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening for the last couple of weeks.
Our building, structural and architectural surveys are now back, just drainage to go. In addition to adding disabled toilets and landscaping the garden, there are some issues that the surveys have thrown up for which we need to get building quotes.
Call for Volunteers As we move into the next phase of the project, we want everyone to get involved. We’ve outlined some areas that we’ll need help with over the summer to get the White House ready to reopen. Please complete this quick survey so that we can set up working groups that adhere to social distancing.
We are delighted to confirm that our offer to purchase the White House has now been approved by Greene King’s board.
What happens next?
We have prepared a job description and advert to attract a suitable tenant that shares the community’s values and vision for the pub. We have also identified suitable advertising channels.
In addition, we have received quotes from several building surveyors who will complete a full survey prior to purchase and are working with a local architect and structural engineer to see what might be feasible with regard to disabled access for the toilets, baby changing facilities and a secure garden.
We have also investigated suitable grants, application criteria and deadlines. We believe there are two grants that could assist with paying for part of the planned upgrades. These grants could offer 25% and 40% of total costs if we are successful, there is of course a lengthy application process and no guarantee we will be successful.
Once we are able to gain access to the pub, we plan to move swiftly on upgrading the current facilities and making sure that we can open as soon as is feasibly possible.
We cannot wait to raise a glass with you to celebrate Bladon’s community pub!