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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Future of Mitre pub remains in the dark

Atticus Evans-Lombe reports.

The future of the historic Mitre, one of Oxford’s oldest and dearest establishments, remains unclear despite calls for Marston’s to reveal its plans. The much-loved pub, which was shut by Lincoln College in 2019 so that a multi-million pound development of student accommodation on the floors above could take place, has never reopened despite the refurbishments concluding in 2021.

When contacted by Cherwell, the bursar of Lincoln College, Alex Spain, suggested that responsibility for the pub’s future now lay with the brewery Marston’s, which currently owns the lease. However, he also said to The Oxford Mail (OM) that he is “optimistic that the Mitre will be open again very soon”.

It seems as though Marston’s is not so hopeful. Earlier this month, a spokesman for Marston’s told The OM, “we do not have any specific plans at this stage are currently reviewing options.”

This vague and inconclusive response has left locals in the dark and the future of the Mitre in doubt. In March, Dave Richardson of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) told the OM that the chain’s inaction was leaving an “eyesore in the heart of the city” which was becoming “increasingly dilapidated”.

Further complaints have been made in connection to Marston’s relationship with major pub group Carlsberg, which people have argued have the funds to invest in a pub so central to Oxford locals.

Calls have also been made for Lincoln college to seek a new partnership with another company.

The pub can stake a claim to be Oxford’s oldest, tracing its roots back to the 13th century, when several houses on the corner of the High and Turl Street were converted into an inn.

According to the Lincoln College website, students have called the site home since 1969, when the college first took over the upstairs accommodation.

Renovation work began in 2018 and was concluded last year, at the cost of £16 million. As well as being regular student accommodation, the College have opened the site for public stays outside of term-time, beginning this July, promising accommodation that combines “modern comfort with the charm and character of 17th century Oxford.”

The future seems bright for the upper floors of the Mitre pub, then. Not so for the old tavern itself, whose future remains unknown. For now, a hole remains both right in the centre of the city and the hearts of many a local.

Image credit: Robin Sones/ CC-BY-SA/2.0

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