No let-up in expansion for Oxford’s craft brewery following White House reopening
Only weeks after reopening the White House pub in Oxford after more than 18 months of closure, Tap Social Movement has opened a bar in Banbury as part of the Lock29 project behind the Castle Quay shopping centre. Lock29, on the Oxford Canal, aims to become a leading casual food and drink destination, with vendors including a bakery, pizzeria, juice bar and Greek-style souvlaki outlet. Open from 11am-6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and from 11am-9pm on Thursday to Saturday, Lock29 is a major addition to Banbury’s food and drink options.
The bar features two cask ales as well as its large keg range, as at the White House – usually one cask from Tap Social and another guest ale. The brewery has expanded rapidly to meet demand since the original Botley site, with taproom added later, opened in 2016. A second brewing site was added in Kennington and it is now looking at other options, while still hoping to open a bar in Oxford’s Covered Market when the city council moves ahead with redevelopment work.
“We’re open in Banbury seven days a week as the anchor tenant providing a bar for the Lock29 project,” explains director Tess Taylor. “There is plenty of seating inside, and outdoor, canal-side seating is coming as well. We are doing our full range plus guest beers, two cask ales, and a full selection of wine, spirits, cider, soft drinks, etc. There is live music at the Lock29 site every weekend and lots of independent food businesses set up to create a food and drink destination.
“Our whole ethos is based on creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere, built around community, which made Lock29 the obvious choice of location for our latest venture. Lock29’s commitment to working with amazing, local independent businesses to create an authentic community hub really appealed to us and it’s great to see how this space is being rejuvenated to bring new life to Banbury.
At the White House, reopening indoors from May 17 enabled Tap Social to build on its successful reopening outside only from April 12. The Abingdon Road pub, run by Wadworth before it closed in the autumn of 2019, has been refurbished inside and brightened up with the introduction of artworks by serving prisoners, in line with Tap Social’s commitment to help ex-offenders back into society – its slogan is “criminally good beer”. The pub now has a light, airy feel both downstairs and upstairs, with the upstairs room being available to hire. More outside space has been created in the former car park.
How do they find the time for all this expansion, at a time when most pubs and breweries are just hanging in there trying to survive? “In terms of finding time for it all,” says Tess, “our motto at the moment is ‘we’ll sleep when we’re dead!’”