The Weekend

The Weekend
School is out and Work is out.

For those of us that study or work from Monday to Friday, Friday evening is the high point of the week. There are now two days before study and work begin again.
The Weekend
This Friday evening in Abingdon was sunny, and there were a lot of people out having fun by the River Thames.
The Weekend
Abingdon is a big draw for people with boats.
The Weekend
The Nags Head Island in Abingdon is the place to be on a sunny Friday evening.
The Weekend
This was an under-used pub before the current owner took it over. Just shows what can be done.

20 thoughts on “The Weekend

  1. Badger

    Imagine if the Upper Reaches could be made a similarly popular destination, significant investment required but done well significant returns forthcoming.

    On a night like last night what an extreme contrast the two neighbouring sites make.

  2. Chris John

    Surprised The Nags Head is so busy. Shockingly high prices and wow the owner has one hell of an attitude!

  3. Badger

    I guess it’s the location that makes it popular (which makes it equally puzzling as to why the Upper Reaches remains closed).
    Maybe the owners attitude has led to the success of the place, having the sight and daring to maximise as many aspects of the site as possible.
    The Nags might seem expensive but compare it to other places locally and the prices are similar, The Flowing Well at Sunningwell for instance, a pint and the cheapest burger will cost you just under £18!

  4. Iain

    It’s not just the location, the Nags Head was pretty rough before it closed and was eventually taken over by the current owner (who I’ve always found friendly). He invested a lot of money and effort in sprucing the place up and building a good food, drink and entertainment offering to make it successful.

    Contrast that with the Upper Reaches which has been terribly run for the entire time I’ve lived in the town (over 20 years) despite all of its natural advantages. Whilst I’m nit generally a cynic, I think the owners over the Upper Reaches have never seemed serious about making it successful.

  5. Badger

    There was a time when the Upper Reaches was better but that was over 20 years ago, it traded off that fading reputation for many years after. As with the Nags (until it’s refurb and re-opening) it now needs a lot of investment to bring it back from the dead. An extension and redevelopment with more riverside rooms would help make it more attractive and draw people in but… £millions required.

    Ref the Nags, the owner has always been fine with me also but have heard and read the opposite, pleasing all the people all the time can sometimes be the hardest thing to achieve, as said above he took a closed rundown pub, invested good money and turned it into something people want to visit which should be applauded, so much better than it sitting there closed and rotting away.

  6. hester

    Re the Upper Reaches, the current leaseholders are the owners of the Caparo steel business so not short of a bob or too to invest in refirbishing oor upgrading a small riverside hotel. Sadly it seems that the site which is so important to all of us in Abingdon has become a pawn in some bigger game of theirs. Presumably they are trying to persuade the Vale Council to allow them to do something (we can probably guess what!) that neither the Vale nor probably most of us would want.
    In the meantime, thanks to Helen for pointing out to me that according to their own website, because the site is in a conservation area “Special powers to serve an Urgent Works Notice are open to the council ‘if it appears that the preservation of a building is important for maintaining the character or appearance of that area’.”
    The same would apply to Old Abbey House….

  7. Badger

    Caparo have been in administration for some time, however although this affects many parts of their group I can’t see a reference on the web to Caparo Hotels being in admin? Still might mean they are not as flushed with cash as one would expect.

  8. Iain

    It’s their steel business that’s in administration, the hotel one is separate. They are owned by the Paul family, so there is plenty of money in the system somewhere, it’s more of a question of whether our hotel is what they want to spend it on.

  9. Horsesmouth

    I think I’ve found the reason why such mystery sorrounds the Upoer Reaches? I’ve paid my £3 to the land registry and downloaded the title deeds!
    It states title Absolute for the upper reaches restaurant and the mill is in the name of Contemporary Hotels and they paid a whooping £1.4 million for it in 2004
    There is another section referring to the “land to the west” which I guess is the car park ? It gives the title owners as VWHDC who leased it out back in the 70’s on a 125 year lease ! It mentions Trust House, the previous occupiers of the plot who I guess transferred it to Contemporary Hotels?
    Clearly there is more going on here than we’re being told and it’s about time the Vale came clean about their intentions instead of leaving us ( and the town ) in limbo !

  10. Daniel

    Believe it or not there’s a dire shortage of hotel rooms in Abingdon (I know, I was aghast when I heard too), but there is…and so a hotel would do well…

    I guess things must be muddier than we think, as, if there was an opportunity for a developer to take advantage; they would have. If there was an opportunity for The Veil to have sold a little more asset; they would have…

    I mean, it’s not like The Veil would be caught “letting the grass grow…”, Oh…hold on, wasn’t that in another post?

  11. Badger

    Horsesmouth – The ‘Trust House’ you mention was Trusthouse Forte who operated the hotel as one of their Forte Heritage establishments, a few signs of which can still be seen dotted about the place.

  12. Badger

    I think one of the limiting factors for the UR was it’s size, at only 31 rooms the profitability of the place must have been a bit limited especially when towards the end the operator seemed not to be putting much into it and thus bad online reviews posted from unimpressed customers were creating an accelerating downward spiral and remember that for some of its final years the hotel overlooked a closed and empty pub… not the most attractive of views.

    I hate to say it but the Veil may actually be acting sensibly and correctly on this one in that it is hopefully resisting the developers proposed plans for any private dwellings on the site I hope that continues to be the case as any major changes would affect the view of Thames Street which is one of Picture-postcard England and should not be changed at all.

  13. Horsesmouth

    Hmm, not sure I agree about not changing the view Badger? I think a crescent of smart apartments following wing the curve of the river would be a superb use of the car park, question is-is the Vale bold enough to re-claim the lease and drive the redevelopment themselves rather than have another old gaol debarkle?

  14. Badger

    Well, that’s the worrying thing… should the Veil reclaim the lease then I’m sure Cranbourne would be straight back in the frame again, another cheeky long term loan, flexible terms on repayments, planning changes, trees being executed etc etc… Welcome to Cranbourne-on-Thames

  15. hester

    Horsesmouth -re post 10, I am sorry you had to spend £3 at the land registry – I thought that all of that was quite widely known – I am sure I have seen it on here and in the Herald before!
    Just to add a bit, the site is in the Conservation area; also in the Local Plan is it is designated as an employment area, not a residential one – so there will be some constraints on what would be allowed there.
    But Caparo/Contemporary Hotels have a 75-year lease and are showing no signs of wanting to relinquish it.
    I tend to agree with those who would like to see a hotel and/or some other public use – virtually all of the right bank of the river is occupied by private housing, we desperately need more places to make use of the wonderful asset the river provides. But each to his own!

  16. Horsesmouth

    Hester, either way we’re not making any use at all of about a third of an acre of weed ridden tar Mac that was once a car park, as for relying on the protection of a local plan, forget it, I have first hand experience of a developer here in town that built in complete defiance of the local plan by contravening policy DC 1 & DC 9, vale planners found him in breach of his permitted development but then “bottled out” and gave him retrospective permission for all his breached conditions of build !

  17. Badger

    It is indeed a crime that both the ex-hotel, moorings and carpark space are just sitting there inaccessible and unused with apparently no plan for their future just further limbo and decay.

  18. Crispy_p

    I don’t know anything about the law on such matters but I wonder if the leasehold or freehold could be subject to a compulsory purchase by a party willing to do something more positive for the town?


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