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The Business Magazine July 2024
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Clarkson buys Cotswold pub

The Business Magazine article image for: Clarkson buys Cotswold pub
The Windmill, Burford
2 July 2024
The Windmill, Burford

Jeremy Clarkson, the unofficial spokesman for British farming thanks to his hugely successful Amazon series Clarkson's Farm has bought a pub.

And after local mutterings for a couple of months that he was going to buy an abandoned pub opposite his Hawkstone Brewery in Bourton on the Water (which made The Sunday Time's fastest growing companies list last Sunday - the brewery, not the abandoned pub.... obvs), it is one which everyone driving regularly between Cheltenham and Oxford will know – The Windmill near Burford, which sits in five acres of land and used to be a venue pub, hosting parties and weddings.

This lovely old building at Asthall on the Oxford side of Burford has the most fabulous views across The Cotswolds and, because it's Jeremy Clarkson behind the project, it will be a big success – because his fans will follow him whatever he does.

But he's also got the right idea about what lots of people want from their pub.

Writing in The Sunday Times, he said: "I wanted dogs and families round the fire. And a restaurant where absolutely everything had been grown or reared in Britain. Even the salt, pepper and wine. I had even decided there’d be no coffee or Coca-Cola."

He says that many people no longer go to country pubs any more. He's right – there are many reason for that, not least that many local pubs no longer have a bar which locals can prop up – the pub owner or manager preferring people to sit down and eat gastronomic delights. Because they'll spend more.

My local pub in a village near Stroud doesn't have a diverse menu and it has a cook not a chef in the kitchen but it does good kebabs and curries, the staff are local and friendly, there's always someone there who is up for a chat – we've enjoyed evenings with people we've never met before but happened to be in the pub that night, and the pub runs an annual mini music festival (in its car park the size of a postage stamp on a stage the size of the stamp's King's head), and regular quiz nights (which to be fair we've not been to – yet).

Jeremy says he wants bar billiards, darts and Aunt Sally in the garden (he says he doesn't know what that is. My nephew has been in his Oxfordshire pub's Aunt Sally team for years, so if you need to know more, Mr C, I'll introduce you - he competed in the World Aunt Sally Championships at Charlbury last weekend).

He also wants to change the name from The Windmill to .. what? He's yet to decide by the sound of it.

I agree with absolutely everything else he's planning (though it will be interesting to see if he can get away without serving coffee and Coca Cola), but there's always a risk in changing a pub name.

In Barnsley, a few miles away from The Windmill, The Village Pub was - for thankfully a brief moment in time, renamed The Boot. Luckily The Pig, the new owner of the beautiful Barnsley House Hotel as of earlier this year, which also owns the pub, has now reverted the watering hole to its proper name.

(Ditto The Stump at Foss Cross near Cirencester. It was the Hare and Hounds for many years, but the name never really caught on with locals and it's now officially The Stump again).

Locals don't like blow-ins renaming their pubs. But with The Windmill Jeremy probably won't have a problem as it's not (to my knowledge), been a locals pub for years. So call it what you like, Jeremy. The locals will support you – assuming there'll be room for them in the bar when they've fought their way through your gazillions of admirers.

Anything Jeremy Clarkson can do to reinvigorate the village and rural pub industry has my vote.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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