Landlord Steven Lyne wants to create a “village pub vibe” in the city centre to help take drinkers’ minds off the coronavirus.

The manager of the Royal Blenheim in St Ebbes said it was more important than ever during the pandemic to create a safe space where people can come in and relax.

He said: “It’s a very friendly environment here - a community vibe where people can come in and have a pint and a chat if they have had a difficult day.”


Steven Lyne

Following lockdown the pub, which dates back to 1889 and is owned by Everards and run by Titanic Brewery, did not reopen until August 5 and is currently closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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Mr Lyne, who has been at the pub for four years, added: “We didn’t open straight away when the lockdown finished in July because we wanted to make sure everything was in place to make sure the pub is Covid safe.

“We’ve got test and trace, customers are asked to wear masks if they are moving around the pub and it’s quite spacious inside so we haven’t lost too many tables.

“At first we were wearing face shields but now the masks are mandatory.


The Royal Blenheim

“We haven’t really had any issues with customers not following the guidelines but we remind people of the rules if we need to.

“It’s a complicated situation for pubs right now with the 10pm curfew and changes almost daily with the tiered lockdowns but we are trying to keep going as best we can and provide a bit of an escape for people.

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“We’re not doing food at the moment as our kitchen is closed but hopefully that will come further down the line.”

The pub is popular with real ale drinkers for its cask ales including the Titanic Plum Porter and White Horse Brewery beers.

Earlier this year it picked up an award from the Oxford branch of real ale enthusiasts CAMRA for city pub of the year.


The award followed extensive refurbishment in 2018 which provided a smart new interior.

The refurbishment was completed in a unique partnership between three breweries, White Horse, of Stanford in the Vale, near Wantage, Stoke-based Titanic Brewery and Everards, of Leicester.

The trio combined to relaunch the pub in an agreement which offered a wide range of beers for drinkers.

The partnership was an updated version of Project William, an initiative which began in the late 1990s as Everards and Titanic worked together to reopen hostelries.

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The revamp cost £85,000 with Everards the main funders, Titanic managing the pub as part of its growing portfolio, and the White Horse Brewery benefitting from a local pub selling its beers.

Mr Lyne said he and his team of five staff are keeping a close eye on the latest lockdown tier updates as they continue to try to run a viable business.


He added: “When you get a ban on households mixing that will have a significant impact on our trade - after work drinks will be hit unless people are in the same support bubble.

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“It’s a very difficult situation because without a full lockdown we are not getting any financial support from the government.”