The Plough may not be quite as grand as its near neighbour, The Bull Hotel, but it still looks like it belongs on a picture postcard.
An old pub built with local stone and a favourite with farmers who once flocked to Fairford market, it seems rather unfair to call such a handsome little building a town ‘local’, but that is exactly what it is. And that is its appeal.
Around a corner and opening its doors right onto the street, The Plough oozes friendliness and charm. You will find none of the trappings that have spoilt so many modern pubs inside this traditional watering hole.
In fact, The Plough looks much the same today as it has for generations and is well worth seeking out whether you are a tourist revelling in the beauty of the Cotswolds or a Swindon resident looking for one of the area’s better small town pubs.
Courtesy Arkell’s website
Wilts & Glos Standard, 14th August 1997: Landlords’ tough choice. The new landlords of the Plough Inn at Fairford had a tough choice when they were offered the tenancy – to take the pub or go off on a holiday of a lifetime to the Bahamas. Peter and Jennifer Gill were offered the pub on London Road by brewers Arkells after the former tenant left, leaving the pub empty. But the couple had been all set to go off on a Caribbean holiday in October after a profitable summer at their present Fairford Pub, the Eight Bells, in East End. From May to July the couple benefited from the extra trade offered by an influx of American servicemen, over here for NATO exercises. They promised themselves a relaxing break away on the money.
But earlier this summer a choice had to be made – the Plough or the holiday. “We went out to buy a holiday to the Bahamas and came back with a pub instead,” said Mr. Gill. The couple have redecorated the Plough and put their son John Wicks into the drivers seat as manager, while they continue to run the Eight Bells. The Plough Inn re-opened after a ten day closure on 1st August.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 1st October 1998 – Pair travel 600 miles for a pint of beer: Two pub regulars from the North East missed their former landlord so much they went on a 600-mile round trip to see him at his new Fairford pub. Popular publican Oliver Cleary and his wife Sheila have just been appointed the new tenants at The Plough in London Road.
Oliver knew his regulars at his previous pub, The Oak Tree at Bowburn, near Durham, would miss him, but he was unprepared for the sudden arrival of two of them within days of him moving to Fairford. Stewart Mitchell and Bobby Mitchell decided on the spur of the moment to drive the 600 miles to see Oliver and share a pint with him. The journey took five hours each way but the friends – who are not related despite sharing the same surname – considered it worth it. “Oliver was the best landlord in Durham,” said Bobby.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 15th March 2001 – Publican is dead: Landlord Ronnie Curry has been found dead in his pub, The Plough in Fairford’s London Street. Police were called to the pub at 7am yesterday (Wednesday). James Arkell, managing director of Arkell’s Brewery which owns the pub, said he was devastated by the news. “Our sympathy goes to Ronnie’s family and friends.” Tony Betteridge, owner of Fairford’s Londis Store, said: “This has been a real shock in Fairford for most people. He had only been working there for a few months.” A police spokesman said the death was not being treated as suspicious.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 10th May 2001 – Warm welcome for new landlords: A new couple are pulling the pints at the Plough in Fairford. Paul and Renata Reynolds have just taken over the Arkell’s pub in London Street. “I was born and bred in pubs and was delighted to be able to take over the Plough,” said Paul, who met his Bulgarian born wife while working in South Africa.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 8th August 2002 – Nicola toasts her sparkling new role: Nicola Campbell has just become the youngest tenant to take on an Arkell’s pub. Nicola, 22, is manning the pumps at The Plough in Fairford. Having lived in Fairford since she was three, she knows most people in the town and is getting on well with the regulars. She has been managing the London Street pub for six months and was delighted to be offered the tenancy when previous landlord Paul Reynolds moved to Newbury.
Nicola, who has three members of staff, said: “I’m planning to develop the food side of the business and do with the skittle alley at the back of the pub, like having karaoke and disco’s there.”
Wilts & Glos Standard, 3rd November 2005 – Night is right for the new landlord: The Plough in Fairford has new landlords this week – and new disabled facilities to boot. Arkell’s Brewery has invested £100,000 in the pub, installing disabled loos and a new kitchen.
Roger and Petra Fessey have also swapped early mornings running a newsagents in Stow-on-the-Wold for late nights in the popular Cotswold pub. Roger said: “We are really night owls not early birds so I’m enjoying seeing the sunset from the bar rather than the sunrise with newsprint all over my hands.”
Arkell’s Brewery has owned The Plough, which is next to Fairford’s Palmer Hall, for 150 years.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 8th June 2006: Domestic differences for World Cup: You do not have to be football mad to know the rivalry between Germany and England on the pitch. But for Fairford publicans Roger and Petra Fessey a World Cup clash between the two famous nations this summer could spell marital trouble.
Newlyweds Roger and Petra – the latter being from Germany – have been running The Plough since September 2005. Should England meet the Germans, which is a possibility in the second round or the final on Sunday, July 9th, Petra will be feeling very lonely. “I will be supporting Germany but I think it is quite difficult to call who will win because there are so many good teams.” And if the Germans beat the English: “I think I will emigrate,” said Petra.
Gloucestershire Echo, 4th January 2007 – Arrest over ‘cop abuse‘: A man allegedly hurled abuse at police in a Fairford pub. A fight was reported at the Plough Inn at 9pm on New Years Eve. A man had already been thrown out but was trying to get back in. Officers arrested a 21-year-old from Lechlade on suspicion of disorderly conduct. He received a police caution.
Wilts and Glos Standard, 17th March 2007 – Charity race night: The Plough Inn in Fairford is hosting a race night on Saturday in aid of Barnados, the UK children’s charity, at 8pm. All are encouraged to support the event.
Map Reference: SP 152009
Owner in 1891: Trustees of J.R. Barker
Lessee in 1891: Arkell & Son, Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon
Rateable Value in 1891: £16.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Beerhouse
Owner in 1903: Arkell & Son, Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon
Rateable Value in 1903: £16.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Beerhouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Landlords at the Plough Inn include:
1891,1903 Henry Barrett
1913 Mr A. Ryman
1939 John William Burge
1997 Peter and Jennifer Gill
1998 (Oct) Oliver and Sheila Cleary
2000, 2001 Ronnie Curry
2001 Paul and Renata Reynolds
2002 Nicola Campbell
2005 (Sept),2008 Roger and Petra Fessey