LOVE it or hate it, Wetherspoon’s has long been the go-to pub chain for bargain booze and a cheap meal.

But did you know every ‘Spoons’ has its own unique name based on a snippet of history from the area?

Read more: Where to get a £1.29 pint from at Oxford Wetherspoons 

With revellers returning to the pubs now that lockdown rules are easing, we decided to look back at the history of all seven Wetherspoons in Oxfordshire.

  • The Four Candles, George Street

Herald Series:

Remember when this pub chain asked for new windows because they were 'rotten'? 

The pub is only a stone throw away from Oxford University’s Faculty of History – originally the city’s High School for Boys, opening in 1881.

The comedy actor Ronnie Barker used to go there and later became known as one of the Two Ronnies.

The duo are best known for their sketch ‘Four candles’ where Mr Barker, who died in 2005, walks into a hardware shop and asks for ‘Four Candles’, while really wanting ‘fork handles’.

  • The Swan and Castle, Castle Street

The Swan and Castle is named after an old pub that was demolished in 1968 to make way for the county council building.

It was first known as the Nag’s Head in 1667 before it was transformed into The Swan in 1806.

JD Wetherspoon took over the site and transformed it into the pub we know today in 2009.

  • The William Morris, Between Town’s Road in Cowley

With this part of the city home to the Cowley plant, it is not a surprise to learn who this pub is named after.

Dotted around the venue are pictures of Morris Motors – the company started by William Morris on the site of the Military College in 1912.

The photographs show changes to the college, the first Bull Nose Morris car designed on the new site and the revamp of Templars Square over the years.

  • The Penny Black, Sheep Street, Bicester

This pub used to be a post office in the early 1900s and shares the name with the famous first stamp which marked the complete overhaul of the postal system we know today.

In 1840 the Penny Black was introduced as the pre-payment method to post things.

However, the black ink was so permanent that when the stamp was ‘cancelled’ with a red mark, it could be wiped away.

This meant that people were able to reuse the stamps so after nine months the penny black changed to the penny red.

  • The Company of Weavers, Market Square, Witney

This pub used to be a huge cinema with enough seats for 400 people.

It opened as the Electric Theatre in 1913 and silent movies were accompanied with three live musicians.

In 1921 the theatre was renamed the People’s Palace and was made much bigger before it completely revamped into a gym and nightclub.

Herald Series:

In 2011. Pic: Mark Hemsworth

But the name of the pub doesn’t have anything to do with the interesting building and actually derives from Witney’s long association with the making of woollen cloth and blankets. 

  • The Exchange, Church Street, Banbury

This is another former post office revamped into a pub.

In fact, it was sending out and receiving parcels until it was rebuilt in 1936 as a telephone exchange – the inspiration for the present name.

  • The Narrows, High Street, Abingdon

Number 25 High Street was Abingdon’s main post office for 11 years until it closed in 2009.

The stretch of road near the building was known as ‘The Narrows’ until the street was destroyed by a fire in 1883 and the roads widened.

Herald Series:

In 2013. Pic Ric Mellis 

The post office building was rebuilt in the 1890s and became a pub in 2013.

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