10th community-owned pub opens this Friday

Johnny and his family

After a “soft” opening last weekend for the shareholders who saved the pub, the White House in Bladon, near Woodstock, will be fully open from 10am on Friday, October 9.

Chadlington Oxford Pale, White Horse Luna Moon Fool and Little Ox Dark and Seedy are leading the line for the opening day, all at £3.85 a pint. A 10% discount is offered to CAMRA members on real ale and cider, with Snailsbank Banoffee Pie (4%) being the first real cider available.

There will also be eight keg lines, from £4.25, including from local suppliers Little Ox, Chadlington Brewery and White Horse. A reduced menu is being offered at first, with starters from £6 and mains from £12. Bookings are encouraged but walk-ins are available.

The White House is being run by real ale champion Johnny Roberts, who led a drive to support local independent brewers while working at Wetherspoon’s Four Candles in Oxford. Born in Oxford, he started working in pubs while studying marketing at university in Kingston-upon-Thames, and moves into the White House with his partner Francesca and little boy Ruben.

“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,” he says. “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. In the last few years I have homed in on real ale and really bonded with the brewing community and CAMRA 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.

Archive photo of the White House

“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 tenant alongside my head chef, David Fowler.”

The White House is the 10th community-owned pub to open in Oxfordshire, confirming that the county is one of the leading areas in the UK where local people have banded together to save a pub from closure and possible redevelopment. There may soon be an 11th, if villagers in Stonesfield, also near Woodstock, succeed in saving the currently closed White Horse.

Greene King put the White House – the only pub in Bladon – up for sale in September 2019. Villagers immediately got it listed as an Asset of Community Value and started preparing a bid, gaining support from charity the Plunkett Foundation and working with existing community-owned pubs to help flatten the learning curve. The bid was accepted in May and work started in July to refurbish the property, using mainly volunteer labour. The share offer is still open to raise funds for ongoing work.

“We aim to create ‘more than just a pub’ at the White House, bringing the pub and the community closer together,” says Johnny. “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. It’s important for me to keep things local, from the guest ales and craft beers to the menu.”

More – including the share offer and volunteering opportunities – at https://bladoncommunitypub.org/