Family and friends raised their glasses yesterday to a former landlord who took charge of a string of Oxford pubs.

Nick Burden, former landlord at The Bullnose Morris in Blackbird Leys and The Britannia in Headington, died from liver failure aged 59 on July 1.

Dad-of-two Mr Burden also worked at The Corn Dolly in Frewin Court, The Crown in Cornmarket Street, and The Ox in Rose Hill.

His funeral was held yesterday at Oxford Crematorium. Mourners met at The Britannia before the service and gathered at The Bullnose afterwards.

Son Mat Burden, 28, of Benson Road, Headington, said: “He was big strong chap but all who knew him realised he one of the nicest people you’d meet and drink with – which is why he was such a successful landlord.

“He was charming and witty and never lost it to the very end. He loved drink and cigarettes and one of the last things he said to me on his hospital bed was ‘Matt, run down the shop and get me a bottle of wine and cigarettes’.”

But he said his dad was rarely seen behind the bar, adding: “He had a stall at the end of the bar where he would sit. He did it for donkey’s years.

“He loved social life, he loved talking and he loved the drink. He was such a social and vibrant person. He loved life in the limelight. I can’t walk through town without someone asking about him.

“He was what is known as troubleshooter in the industry. He went into pubs and cleaned them up and went on to the next ones.”

Mr Burden was born in St Ebbe’s and went to Blackbird Leys Junior School and then Redefield Secondary.

He joined the police at 19 but after two years started working as a doorman at Scamps Nightclub in Oxford where he became assistant manager.

He took over The Crown in Cornmarket Street in 1975 and moved on to The Corn Dolly which closed in 1981.

There was a huge protest in Cornmarket Street in the late 1970s after Mr Burden let strippers perform at the pub at lunchtimes.

Mr Burden then worked at The Bullnose Morris for about four years, before a stay at The Ox in Rose Hill. He then settled at The Britannia for 12 years until 2003.

Larry Nelson, 66, former landlord at The Chequers in High Street and The Nelson in Cowley, said: “I call him the gentle giant. He was a massive guy but had a heart of gold. Life wasn’t a serious episode for him. It was just fun and that reflected in his success in the pub and popularity with all the lads.”

Ally Black, 61, former landlord The Crown and Thistle in Wood Farm, added: “He was a larger-than-life person. He loved his live music in The Corn Dolly.

“He was a big drinker but he was a right character.

“He was one of the old fashioned landlords.”

After ventures abroad in Abu Dhabi and then in Somerset, Mr Burden returned two years ago when he moved to Kennington.

His daughter Leanne Burden, 29, lives in Blewbury.