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Home > Oxfordshire > Abingdon > Kings Head & Bell

Kings Head & Bell

Date of photo:2014

Picture source: Movement80


The Kings Head & Bell was situated at 10 East St Helen Street.
This pub reopened in October 2009. This is now a Foundations Inn pub and is doing very well as one of the few non Greene Kings pubs in town.
Steven Green (December 2010)
I was stationed at RAF Abingdon in the mid/late 70's. There were many pubs in Abingdon at that time but the Kings Head and Bell was my favourite haunt. It was a bit of a bikers pub at the timeand my circle of friends included many bikers from Abingdon as well as the RAF camp. One Saturday night in the summer of 1978, a strange thing happened. Myself and a RAF colleague arrived fairly early. The landlord (Steve) announced that it was his and his staff's last night. Apparently there had been an acrimonious breakdown between the staff and the pub owners and it had come to a head fairly quickly. Steve and his entire staff said that they were spending their last night in the Punchbowl pub across the road and started to walk out. "Who's going to look after this place" I said? He threw the pub keys to me and said "you can if you want".
I was only 20 years old and had never worked behind a bar before but with the help of my RAF colleague, we gave it a go. It quickly became obvious that we wouldn't be paying for any drinks that evening, so that made us happy. Soon, a lot of our civvy friends came in and were surprised to find us serving. There were three bars in the pub at the time so it was hard work because there was normally 3-4 staff serving but with the help of lots of free beer, we got through to closing time. My memory is rather dim but I think Steve the landlord came back after closing time and cashed up and locked up.
So the next day, (Sunday) my friend and I arrive early at the pub, curious as to what was going to happen. We went inside and spoke to a rather elderly man behind the bar. He said he was a locum landlord sent in to look after the pub in the short term. I don't know who owned the pub. I always thought it was a free house on account of the selection of different ales on sale but I could be wrong. We told the locum landlord that we had ran the bar the previous evening. He pleaded with us to get behind the bar again as he had no staff at all. He said we would obviously get paid, cash in hand, so we agreed. To cut a long story short, I stayed there for 4 or 5 months. I did my RAF stuff during the day and spent 6 nights a week behind the bar. I was getting paid two wages and didn't have the time to spend any of it.
Shortly after, I met my wife and gave up the pub work. I moved away with the RAF but we have visited the pub a few times since then. It was nice to see it re-open after a closure but it has been completely re-modeled inside and I hardly recognise it.
Paul Giverine (October 2018)

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