What’s your favourite pub in Oxford?

New video series invites you to talk briefly about your top choice of watering hole

Local CAMRA member, writer and professional tour guide Rob Walters has been spending a fruitful lockdown by releasing the first of a series of free-to-watch videos entitled Rob’s Pubs of Oxford, on his Rob’s Oxford Youtube channel. He is inviting contributions to add to the series, asking people to record a brief video clip explaining why they have chosen their favourite pub in the city. Separate videos have already been made about the Wheatsheaf, the Turf Tavern and the Lamb & Flag.

He has also been whiling away the long days when pubs have been closed with a kind of “Desert Island” exercise, considering where he would like to be enjoying a pint of real ale if that pub could be transported to his desert isle.

The introductory video in the pubs series has 10 contributors, name-checking pubs including the Rose & Crown (twice), the Wheatsheaf, the Anchor, the Punter, the Harcourt Arms and the Gloucester Arms (now the White Rabbit). A long-gone pub called the Wharf House (now private housing) is recalled “for the lost souls who loved the great beer and malevolent landlord”, while the Perch in Binsey is name-checked as it’s “first the church and then the Perch” for some visitors to the village. The former Cricketers Arms on Iffley Road, which became the Mad Hatter cocktail bar, is also recalled fondly.

“First the church and then the Perch” — or should it be the other way round?

Rob has spent over a decade leading walking tours for the tourist office on Broad Street, including pub tours. Other subjects on his Youtube channel include Tolkien’s Oxford and various programmes on the colleges. Rob – a founder member of CAMRA in East Anglia – also campaigns against pub closures, and has been active recently speaking up for the Lamb & Flag (threatened with permanent closure) and opposing plans to close the Wheatsheaf as a music venue. Watch the first of his pubs videos here.

Of his Desert Island Pubs, idea, he says: “My choice of drink was not difficult, though it might be unusual and rather hard to supply in perfect condition on the island. It is … a pint of real ale from my local Oxford pub, the Rose & Crown. I have chosen real ale not for its looks. I would however insist that the beer be contained in a glass with a handle and with dimples, that its temperature be 12 degrees Centigrade and that there is approximately one centimetre of white foam at the top and a few bubbles to indicate that it is a live ale. And I would prefer a golden hue when illuminated by a sunbeam.

“Sometimes, when I am cast away in the intense heat of my olive grove in Spain, I suddenly experience a piercing desire for a pint of real ale, but am buoyed by the knowledge that I will return to Oxford to satisfy my longing. Meanwhile, San Miguel will have to do.

Rob Walters

“On the island there would be no assurance of a return home: hence my choice of object. It would serve as a reminder of many pleasant pints in so many varied and delightful pubs in Oxford. And it would also cast me back to the days when we fought for traditional beer against the monster breweries that tried to dictate what we should drink. 

“What is more, that perfect pint will recall for me the historic and characterful pubs of Oxford, from the Eagle and Child with its Tolkien and Lewis connections to the oldest of them, the Mitre, with its deep 13th century cellar said to have been connected to the splendid 15th century Chequers by an underground tunnel.”

Good luck to Rob, and we look forward to further videos about people’s favourite pubs. You can contact him at rob@robsbookshop.com