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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

#141 Oddfellows Arms (now Kiss), Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks : 1996 to 2013

For several years we were regular visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon as it was our regular Easter destination on our narrowboat Emma Jane from 1996 to 2011. There are lots of pubs in the town making it an ideal venue for a pub crawl.

The Oddfellows Arms was one of the first pub that we ever visited in Stratford as it was on the way from what became our regular mooring (above the locks, away from the centre) to the pubs in the centre.
This was on the evening of Friday 5th April 1996 (Good Friday) after a trying day's boating. Our day had started badly when Emma Jane refused to start. The nearest boatyard was a couple of miles away and as neither of us had a mobile phone in those days we walked there! The engineer gave us a lift back and got us going, but we'd only got time to get to the boatyard before lunch - fortunately there was also a pub there!

It was a long afternoon boating from Wooton Wawen to Stratford with us mooring up at 7:50 pm! I'm guessing that we were quite thirsty and went into the first pub we found - the Oddfellows Arms. As I recall it was a very cosy, pleasant pub.

It was another seven years before we revisited the Oddfellows Arms, this time on the evening of Saturday 19th April 2003.
As I recall, it was pretty much unchanged, but the signs indicate that food was now available. Also, the outside seating now had a very low retaining wall.

The next visit was on the evening of Saturday 7th April 2007.
The Oddfellows Arms had been refurbished inside and out, but not to our taste - it had become more modern and soul-less! That was the last time we actually stepped inside and, although we did walk by a few times, it wasn't sufficiently inviting to tempt us back in!

I popped back to Stratford last year to take a few photos of the town and this is the sight I came across.
It was the afternoon of Thursday 5th September 2013 and the Oddfellows Arms has been transformed into Kiss! I didn't go in.

Judging from the most recent review on Beer in the Evening it doesn't look as though this will be here for too much longer. This appears to be going the way of many pubs over the past few years; as the market contracts, the back street pubs seem to be the ones disappearing, especially when there are so many others nearby in a town like Stratford. Sad, but currently almost inevitable! 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

#140 The Tontine, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire : 1987 to 2013 (RIP)

As previously noted, Stourport-on-Severn has many pubs and, back in 1987 The Tontine was one of the outstanding pubs in the town.
This photo was taken on the evening of Monday 6th July 1987 after a slightly fraught journey up the River Severn from Worcester. This was our first boating trip up the Severn and, having left Worcester's Diglis Basin at 3pm, we'd not taken the flow of the river into account making the journey much longer than we'd expected! We almost didn't make it to Stourport for the evening because the last lock on the Severn, Lincomb Lock, was technically closed for the night. We were in luck, though, because one of the regular trip boats was due to pass through and after some negotiation, the lock keeper agreed to let us through!

We moored on the river at Stourport and The Tontine was just a short walk away up the carefully manicured bank side. I don't remember too much about the inside other than it was a large pub with lots of canal pictures and memorabilia.

It was another 10 years before we returned to The Tontine on the evening of Tuesday 27th May 1997.
As far as I recall there were no significant changes, but inside were signs of a general decline.

We were in Stourport again in 1999, but didn't visit The Tontine. However, I took this photo on the afternoon of Tuesday 1st June 1999 as we passed through the locks up from the Severn into Stourport Basin.
Since then we've passed through Storuport-on-Severn several times and The Tontine had been closed for most of them. According to Closed Pubs it has been closed since 2001.

Our most recent visit to the town was the premature end of our journey because the Severn was closed because it was running very fast and high from the heavy rain a few days earlier. This gave me some time to take photos of the town, including The Tontine.

These pictures were taken in the afternoon of Thursday 16th May 2013. From the outside The Tontine is largely unchanged, unsurprising as it is a listed building, but it has been split into flats for residential use.

The Tontine is an unusual name and I'm indebted to Andrew Denny and his Granny Buttons blog for this explanation: -

How did the Tontine Hotel come to be called?  A Tontine Will is defined here - it's effectively when a group of men pool their inheritances and the last man standing gets the lot.  But that's not the original name.  According to a Stourport Tourism Leaflet:
The Tontine Hotel was constructed as the Areley Inn in 1772 and gave accommodation to merchants and travellers. It was a grand place with a ballroom and several reception rooms.
Another history of The Tontine can be found here