Dodo takes over White House from Tap Social Movement

Pub on Oxford’s Abingdon Road will re-open with new name in early September

Tap Social Movement has pulled out of the White House after three years, handing over to another independent Oxford-based operator, Dodo Pub Co, which has leased it from Brasenose College. It closed on June 16 and will remain closed until early September for refurbishment work, and with the Berkshire pub also being shut, Abingdon Road has just one pub open for the time being – the Greene King-owned Duke of Monmouth.

The White House becomes Dodo’s fourth pub in Oxford and ninth overall, and all have a strong focus on community and an informal, pizza-based menu. Its first pub was the Rusty Bicycle in Magdalen Road, East Oxford (formerly the Eagle Tavern) in 2009, followed by the Rickety Press in Jericho (formerly the Radcliffe Arms) in 2011. Both these pubs are owned by and tied to Swindon brewer Arkell’s, but the White House is free of tie like the Up in Arms (formerly the Somerset) in Marston Road, which re-opened in 2019 after a long period of closure.

The White House traded from a ‘horsebox’ before reopening in 2021. Image: Tap Social Movement

The White House too will be renamed again (it was once the Folly Bridge Inn) and it’s to be hoped that some interesting cask as well as craft keg beers will be on offer. Two cask lines were on offer when the pub was run by Tap Social, although it is mainly a craft keg brewer. Other pubs in the Dodo range are the Part and Parcel in Witney (a former Post Office), the Bottle of Sauce and Airs & Graces in Cheltenham, the Last Crumb in Caversham (Reading), and the All Inn in Bristol.

Tap Social has expanded rapidly since its foundation in 2016 on the Curtis Industrial Estate in Botley, running very successful events at its taproom there including this week’s Change is Brewing festival. It operates a second and larger brewing site in Kidlington, the Market Tap bar in Oxford and a bar in Banbury (Lock29), plus the Proof Social bakehouse in Kennington. But taking on the White House, a large traditional pub (formerly run by Wadworth) while Covid restrictions were still affecting trading, was clearly a major challenge.

One of the paintings done by an ex-prisoner on display at the White House

“As two local independents with firm roots in the Oxford community, we pride ourselves on building and running fun, inclusive venues where all are welcome,” say Tap Social co-founder Paul Humpherson and Dodo Pub Co co-founder Leo Johnson in a joint statement. “As Tap Social hands the reins over to Dodo Pub Co, we’re pleased to say the focus on serving the local community remains the same, and that Dodo Pub Co’s winning formula of great food and craft beer under their slogan ‘Neighbourhood Pubs’ will without question carry on and build upon what Tap Social accomplished at this location.”

Dodo will offer three beers from Tap Social’s award-winning range on draught and has agreed to a long-term supply agreement to pour Tap Social’s best-selling Time Better Spent (5.1% Juicy IPA) on draught at two of its other Oxfordshire venues. Dodo also confirms its commitment to pursuing Tap Social’s ethos of social inclusion and giving employment opportunities to those who need them most, especially prison leavers. All jobs have been protected.

“This announcement is of course tinged with sadness,” adds Paul. “We’ve created so many good memories here, and created thousands of hours of paid employment for prison leavers since we took over the pub during the pandemic. But while it’s tough to part with this amazing building and its wonderful regulars, we have big plans for the future and we’re excited to see what Dodo does with the space. Everyone on the Tap Social team would like to thank all of our customers for their support over the years, as well as Brasenose College for their generous, unwavering support as landlords against an unprecedented economic backdrop.

The Rusty Bicycle was Dodo’s first pub — and is now one of nine

“We’re excited to launch our fourth Oxford site in a new part of town,” says Leo. “In standard Dodo style, you can expect a full interior and exterior revamp, as well as a quirky name change that’ll nod to the history of the building and surrounding area. We’re looking forward to continuing where Tap Social left off; creating an awesome neighbourbood pub with a strong sense of community.”

  • The Berkshire, further down the Abingdon Road from the White House, is up for let by Admiral Taverns. It has had various identities over the last 20 years as successive operators have tried to make it work, including Hubble and Home, Home, the Crooked Pot and the Berkshire House (Abingdon Road was once in Berkshire). For the last couple of years it has been run by the Portuguese owners of the adjacent café and convenience store, also now closed.