British Oak pub wins national ‘excellence’ award for its cellar

British Oak,  Blackheath
The British Oak is the local pub for many Charlton residents

The British Oak pub on Old Dover Road has won a national award for the way it keeps its beer.

Landlord Peter Clements won the Excellence In Cellar Standards Award from the firm that owns the pub, Ei Group.

The Oak, which is many Charlton residents’ local pub, still has two separate bars as well as a beer garden and regularly hosts live music and other events.

Clements and his staff were praised for how they look after their beer and glasses, with judges noting “they even consider what type of water is available in their local area to determine how much product is used”.

It beat pubs in Coventry and Stafford to scoop the prize.

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Who wants to ride Charlton’s White Swan into the future?

White Swan, Charlton, 12 December 2013/ Nikki Coates

Let’s be honest, now, the White Swan’s been an ugly duckling of a pub for a long while now. An attempted revamp in 2010 never quite caught on.

For all the attempts to drag it up by its bootstraps, a couple of female friends of mine got grief one summer’s night for the crime of… ordering pints. I’ve not been back since, but I’m told the following manager’s attempt to turn it into a poker hangout didn’t have ace results either.

It was shut for a while, but reopened shortly before Christmas with a new manager in charge while owners Punch Taverns hunt for someone to take it on long-term, albeit at a steep rent of £43,000/ year.

“A rare chance to step into a community pub, located in the heart of Charlton village. The White Swan is a family-friendly establishment that is ideal for hosting events and entertainment. A large patio garden to the rear combined with a commercial kitchen means there is ample opportunity to develop the food trade, particularly in good weather.”

There seems to be a bit of interest in taking on the Swan this time, though – but whether the potential pub bosses have the same ideas as Punch is a curious question. The manager who led the 2010 revamp fancies trying to finish the job, another group fancies trying to recreate the live music success of the Pelton Arms in Greenwich, while there’s also talk of a local brewery showing some interest (small breweries have helped the community buy Nunhead’s Ivy House under new legislation, while the East Wickham Brewery has taken on the long-forgotten Old Loyal Britons in Thames Street, Greenwich).

And then there’s this petition and Facebook page from Kathryn McDowell, who wants to see the Antic group take the pub over. Antic has a fine track record in taking on dowdy pubs and making them shine – particularly the Ravensbourne Arms (ex-George and Dragon) in Lewisham and the now-shut Catford Bridge Tavern (ex-Copperfield), which has been replaced by the Catford Constitutional Club, in a long-shut Conservative club. It’s an interesting company, but has taken nearly a year to do anything with a planned pub in Woolwich’s Equitable House, evidence of a full diary of planned refurbs.

Worth noting, though, that there’s 125 “likes” on Kathryn’s Facebook page – probably more than have ever been in the Swan on a non-matchday for some time.

Do you drink in Charlton and have a preferred pub? Or do you just head straight out of SE7 towards Greenwich or Blackheath if you fancy a tipple? Share your thoughts on Charlton’s pubs – and what do you think can be done to keep the Swan afloat?