With pubs re-opening across the country from 4th July, where to go for some, for now, suitably socially distanced liquid refreshment? Well, why not the Jolly Farmers Pub, in Oxford, which is getting a refurb with a nod in places to some famous fantasy works based in the city?
If you need encouragement, then the refurbished hostelry – Oxford’s only LGBT+ pub in Paradise Street, next to the Westgate shopping centre – sports new signage and, for fans of Sir Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, its own ‘Lyra’s Room’.
One of the oldest established gay pubs in the country, The Jolly Farmers has served the gay community in Oxford and the surrounding areas since 1981.
The new signage and branding should look familiar to some downthetubes readers, because it’s the work of author and artist Spike Greenwood, aka Greenspike, creator of the marvellous illustrated book, The Oxford Trollomicus – who is one of the new landlords.
Spike and Rob took over the tenancy earlier this month (along with Sherlock the dog), keen to maintain its offering as an LGBT+ venue, and immediately set to work refurbishing the pub with a new look that’s attracted plenty of online interest ahead of re-opening.
“It’s a curious time to be taking on a public house,” the pair admit, “but we felt that even with three pence and a curly wurly to our name, we couldn’t let it slip out of the Oxford LGBT+ community’s hands. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and even more guess work, before we all know what shape our world will be in over the next few months, but you can guarantee that your ridiculous, friendly, Community Pub will be waiting for you with open arms and a small selection of beverages.
“We’ll need all the help we can get folks, so we look forward to seeing you as soon as we can.”
Earlier this week, Sir Philip Pullman himself kindly responded to a cheeky tweet to say he’d certainly call in to check out the new decor when the pub re-opens – much to the delight of the new landlords.
“This is your pub, your community,” emphasise Rob and Spike. “We’ve come a long long way together, through the hard times and the good. It really is time to build a better world, and there’s nowhere better to start, than the pub… You have our whole hearted commitment Oxford, and we won’t let you down.”
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.