Nags Head Pub Closes

January 6, 2011

Nags Head Closes
The Nags Head pub has a unique location on an island on the River Thames. Abingdon Bridge connects it to Abingdon, and Burford Bridge connects it to South Oxfordshire. On warm summer days it is a popular place to sit near the river, drink a pint, eat chips, and watch the boats go by.
Nags Head Closes
Boat trips leave from the pub’s island to Oxford and Wallingford. It seems to have a wonderful location, for the summer, so I’m sad to say, it has closed. Let’s hope it turns out to be just a winter closure.

Filed under: Business

41 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Adrian Marsden  |  January 6, 2011 at 3:07 am

    That is very sad… As an Old Boy of Abingdon School who’s family live quite close to the Nag’s Head it was a, (unbeknown to my parents at the time), favourite hang out of mine… Living so far away now, (the USA), it’s like another little piece of my past is gone, (or going).

    Thanks very much for this blog. My parents put me on to it last year when they “featured” on the front page… I check it almost daily now – It’s a true link to my roots… You do a wonderful job and please, don’t stop.

  • 2. Ishtar  |  January 6, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Sorry to say it looks permanent –

    Sad…I have many happy memories of sitting in the garden by the river – and one memorable occasion when someone fell in!!

  • 3. dave  |  January 6, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I’ve always thought that Abingdon doesn’t really exploit the Thames

  • 4. Rachel  |  January 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

    What a shame. I have some great memories of the Nag’s Head in the late 80s. What is happening to all the pubs in Abingdon?

  • 5. hester  |  January 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

    It is a permanent closure – that has been confirmed by the management company, Punch Taverns. The property belongs to a private landlord – Heather Brown of Choose Abingdon Partnership is trying to find out more about his intentions for its future.

    It is such a key site for the town that hopefully someone will come forward with a plan to make good use of it.

  • 6. Mr Grumpy  |  January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Its a sad sight another empty unit in Abingdon, especially on its own island.
    On an un-related topic it seems some people are busy inside the old post office – anyone got any gossip on it? Proably become another pub or restaurant no doubt!

  • 7. Bob Lightsoot  |  January 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    It won’t be a pub again I’m afraid. The rent costs are astronomical for the premises, which is why Punch Taverns made the decision to shut up shop. It makes plenty of money in the Summer – but there isn’t enough money to be made in the Winter to keep it open.

  • 8. Peter  |  January 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    In 2010 there were 26 pubs closed each week in the UK. The Nag’s head is one of those.

  • 9. Tim  |  January 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    A real shame. I also have fond memories of drinking down there in the late 80’s. Most weekends someone would be thrown in or fall in the river. I went in a few times and also, shame on me, threw a few people in as well. Happy days!!! I went in there a few times in recent years and though it was a terrible place. It was full of under age drinkers and it felt very intimidating being in there. It has massive potential but if the rent is so high I’m not suprised it has gone.

  • 10. the color climax corporation  |  January 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    not a drinker myself but my brother assures me it was always the pub to get a drink in if you were a child – no wonder the adults stayed away.
    when i was a teenager it was always called the ( engage self censorship mode ) sl*gs bed.

  • 11. Abingdon resident  |  January 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I think this is probably agreat opportunity for someone else. I have lived in Abingdon for 6 years and have a young family, (so don’t get top pubs much anymore!) but every time we visited I always felt something was missing. Atmosphere, good food something wasn’t right. The Nag’s Head never seemed to exploit ii’s fabulous location either.

  • 12. Ruth  |  January 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Last time we took overseas visitors there (summer 2010) we felt embarrassed. Sticky carpet, sticky tables, poor service. Awful. Such a pity that someone could not have taken it over and made it the place it deserves to be in such a prime location.

  • 13. Dave  |  January 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Used to be a great pub, both for eating and for taking in the summer evening air. But over the past few years it’s become bland and (as someone mentioned in a previous comment) full of kids and loud music. It needs to be reinvented.

  • 14. Ste  |  January 7, 2011 at 4:12 am

    The Nags Head got ruined when it was done up somewhere between summer 03 and summer 04.

    I started using the pub in 2nd year of alevels (1999) and it was a fantastic place to go to, all the kids doing alevels (JMS, Fitzharrys, Larkmead, Abingdon School, St Helens and the Convent) would mix and during the summr everyone would go in the garden it was THE place to go if your were in your late teens/20’s…., with the 2nd bar open down by the picnic tables, it did attract more of a “middle class” (parents and offspring) crowd back then, and the music was a lot more rock orintated.

    even in the winter the place would be jammed packed with the same sort of people….you had the quiz on sunday nights….the food was fantastic as well should it take your fancy.

    but then iit got taken over (2003/04 ish) the tables well pulled out from upstairs to be replaced by pool tables and fruit machines…and the restaurant area was turned into a kareoke bar. it also didn’t take long for more undesirables to start appearing and with that most of the people who used to go there started heading for other pubs in abingdon,. (our group included) – you used to bump into all the other regulars out and about elsewhere.

    new owners, different clientle which put off other customers…to be honest im suprised its lasted as long as it is.

    a friend of mine watched england v france in euro2004 and at the final whistle a disgruntled england fan threw his pint glass at the TV screen which bounced off and smashed into a young lads head which resulted in a trip to the JR and around 50 stiches in his scalp.

    Whilst I’m not saying everyone who drank in there from then on was a yob it certinaly did seem to attract a lot of them, unfortunatly all the previous owners good work was un-done and now the new owner who tried to get the place back was fighting against quick sand.

    i fear it would need a Kings Head and Bell style revamp to get the place going again, launch it with good beer and food, get rid of the pool tables, TV screens and sort the garden out which has turned into a right mess.

  • 15. Spike  |  January 7, 2011 at 6:00 am

    This would be the perfect place for Witherspoons to take over I think they would make a killing with their low priced ale and excellent value food. I know they tried for the old bank building which in now Ask but times have moved on and the local businesses that objected need to understand it would attract people into town.

  • 16. Tim  |  January 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I could not agree more with Spike. Weatherspoons, love them or hate them, would save the pub. They have the finance to turn the place around and make it a decent watering hole again.

  • 17. Abingdon Man  |  January 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    A Wetherspoons would be perfect for that pub, well priced beer and food to see it through the winter and then extra profit during the summer months, or maybe a Hungry House style restaurant/pub would do well there, be a shame to see more flats built in Abingdon

  • 18. Another Abingdon man  |  January 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Apparently, Thr ASK pizza group are owned by Wetherspoons so when all the local landlords protested against having a wetherspoons in the building they decided to make it into an ASK pizza resraurant.

    Personally, I don’t care what any local landlord says, if Wetherspoons want to open in Abingdon then they shoudl be welcomed as any investment in Abingdon is welcome as I am afraid to say its on the raod to a slow death at the moment.

  • 19. trish  |  January 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Well I agree with everything said so far. I only went there once when i first moved to Abingdon in 2001. We took some friends there new to the area. the food was appalling, the place was filthy and I vowed never to step in there again. However i walk by it every day with my dog and always see undesirables at the bar, some of whom ought to have been in school. It is a shame that such a premium site is not better used. If you think about other towns on our beautiful Thames and the restaurants / pubs that are there , we should be making the most of that location. It has the advantage of having the cruisers stop there in the summer and more could be made of a dinner + cruise or lunch + cruise by Salters.
    Come on chamber and Abingdon promotions …. get out there and find a good restuarant chain to take up the space, and don’t overload them with charges and restrictions. When the gaol finally opens, that venue will be one of the added attractions to prospective buyers. Think ahead and out of the box!!
    It will be a shame to see a boarded up building right on the bridge won’t it!

  • 20. Mike  |  January 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Another piece of evidence that Abingdon is declining and the local powers that be care not a jot and have not a clue what to do. That a town like ours, in one of the most prosperous parts of the country, should resemble an economic basket case, while towns around do so much better, is nothing short of scandalous. The question that our rulers never seem to ask is: why would anyone come to Abingdon? As our neighbour said before this latest sad piece of news, “Abingdon’s just dying!”

    It’s instructive that two of the newest shops to open are a pawnbroker’s in the Market Square and Poundland in the precinct. These are shops that serve the urban underclass. Those with eyes to see, let them see!

  • 21. Anon  |  January 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Who does MIke think are these “powers that be” that can control how much a private landlord rents his property for, who he rents it to and what sort of clientele pub landlords allow in? Local councillors certainly don’t have those powers – whether we like it or not, we live in a free market economy! Does he want state control of our town centres?

    I am also bemused by anyone who thinks this is just an Abingdon problem – reading the local paper it is not clear which towns he thinks are “doing so much better” – they all sound pretty unhappy to me. And it’s not just this area either – most of the country is facing the same problems – you could say “we’re all in it together”! In any case, a recent report on this blog showed that in both 2009 and 2010 more shops opened than closed in Abingdon.

    And finally, references to the “urban underclass” seem pretty offensive: Abingdon has a lot of families living in poverty, they need somewhere to shop for everyday items – why should they be forced to spend money to travel elsewhere for cheap goods. What is wrong with having a diverse range of shops – something for everyone?

    So – as has so often been said before on this wonderful blog – lets do our bit – support the shops and pubs we do have: if they can thrive others are more likely to come to join them. And every letter/posting saying “Abingdon is dying” increases the liikelihood of that happening.

  • 22. anon  |  January 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I agree so much with the comments given by anon (21st comment).
    Supporting our local shops and businesses is important to this town as it is to all towns. Any town will die if its services are not used. Saying ‘Abingdon is dying’ is one way of hastening its demise.

  • 23. another abingdon man  |  January 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    It really makes me laugh when poeple say every town is the same. No they are not. Abingdon has a specific problem caused by the shambles that is the traffic light system plus the car parking charges.

    A very quick measure our local concil could implement is to make car parking free for two hours. I believe this would encourage shoppers. It certainly works for Didcot!

  • 24. Ste  |  January 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    maybe a wetherspoons would stop some pubs charging so much for a pint…you now have to pay £4 for a pint of Peroni in the Brewery Tap!

  • 25. Tim  |  January 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Drink real ale, its cheaper

  • 26. Ben  |  January 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Hi I have read all of your comments with great interest. I currently run two very successful pubs and I am very interested in taking on the lease/ freehold of this one. I have written to the landlords to express my interest over a week ago and I have not heard back yet. If anyone can put me in touch with them or at least someone who can help please send me an email, I am only interested in making this pub as glorious as it can be and will not be selling alcopops or 2 for 1 deals.
    Thanks in advance

  • 27. Abingdon Man  |  January 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Come on Wetherspoons ! ! It would make sense for those of us who like a pint at a price we can afford. It would put a stop to the likes of Stocks, Brewery Tap and others exploiting people and overcharging, not only for beer, but food as well. Get behind wetherspoons, and lets see them take over the Nags, and keep an old institution alive ! ! GOOD LUCK WETHERSPOONS……

  • 28. Waspy  |  January 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Come on lad the Stocks doesn’t overcharge and the Tap caters for a market thats willing to pay a bit extra.

  • 29. Foodlover  |  January 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Ben – the site is a fantastic one. You have all the river traffic in the summer, and you WILL get local business in the winter if you do good food and kick out the chavs. I for one would never take my wife in there in the past 5 years, despite walking past it all the time. Its was just horrid.

    It could be a “go to” location for the local area. The only downside is there is no carpark – but there is a public carpark just over the river so its not a massive issue.

    The location is crying out for a proper make-over if the owners charge a sensible rent for it. The sheer size of it makes a restaurant style pub a possibility, with plenty of room for for a bar too.

    There is not a proper “foody” pub in Abindon. The broadface used to be decent but is not poor service/poor food and overpriced. Kings Head and bell is OK, but ‘mid market’ and has gone downhill since it started. You could either go in top end or mid market either would do the trick.

    You also have the bonus of the Salters Steamers from Oxford – instant 30+ seats every day of the summer. Simply deal with them on board – get them to order it by mobile phone and have it on the table when they get there – will get the ££££ in.

    Well worth checking out.

  • 30. Steve Simmons  |  January 31, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I have heard that the Landlord who ownes the lease is the middleman for the real owners who are the Vale Of White Horse and this landlord was charging £8000 a month just in rent. No wonder it closed. You would have to make £3000 a week all year round just to pay the bills! Just an added factor it is a listed building and it has structural concerns, so you will need permission from every man and his dog just to apply some paint.

  • 31. john  |  March 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    i have read the comments and i carnt understand where they are coming from i ran that pub dueing that time and it was great for everyone young and old.great in the summer and just as good in the winter so i dont know what pub you all where in but it was not THE NAGS HEAD OTT.

  • 32. David  |  May 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    It is a shame this pub has closed given its location, but having said that I have lived in Abingdon for four years and always enjoyed having a drink by the river but have to say the service has never been up to much, waiting to long to be served and never welcoming

  • 33. bevis  |  May 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Typical I make it back to Abingdon after 3 years in Australia and my old pub is closed. I was landlord back in the early 90’s and it’s still my fave pub of all.

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  • 35. Sarah  |  August 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    The Nags Head was a fantastic pub when I was manager there with Mike, we turned the trade around as it was frequented by under 18 year olds. We let out rooms upstairs, had home cooked sunday roasts, and Ploughman’s to die for. The front was covered in hanging baskets, the garden was hoovered every day,yes! hoovered.
    Bevis, I think I know you,we were there from 1991-1993.

  • 36. Sarah  |  August 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Is Andy still running Abingdon Boat Centre with his Dad, would love to get in touch if any one knows.

  • 37. Lee Bradbury  |  April 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve only just found this news story and I’m devestated.
    My Granddad, George Dean, was the Landlord of the Nag’s Head along with Olive my Nan, for a period in the 70’s.
    My parents and I lived there for a while too, when we were moving to Middlesex.
    This is really sad for me.

  • 38. CST  |  August 8, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Is going to reopen late September according to the local CAMRA rag

  • 39. Liz  |  August 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    the nags head has a new owner, and luckily its opening again soon! I hope dusty will make us all proud! :)

  • 40. david kennedy  |  September 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I am looking for the staff that used to work there 2002 2005..peter..reece fleur..dave..john..etc..some where abingdon residents…The nags was a great pub..ruined by hi prices (RENT) and greedy owners (MILLHOUSE INNS) Some lovely people in abingdon..miss alot of them…and of course the odd nutter

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