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Pub/Bar of the Month April 2018: The Fox & Hounds, Caversham, UK

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The Fox & Hounds, Caversham, UK

From Liverpool to Caversham, Berkshire, it’s a long and winding road. But that was the journey made by John Lennon and Paul McCartney one day in April 1960.

Fox & Hounds, CavershamThe two teenage lads, Beatles in the making, decided to take a break over the Easter holidays.

They hitched a ride to spend some time with Paul’s cousin Bett Robbins, who ran the Fox & Hounds pub near Reading with her husband, Mike.

According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, they helped out behind the bar and, as a quid-pro-quo, they were given the chance to sing a few songs to the regulars on the Saturday evening.

Calling themselves the Nerk Twins, they entertained in the pub’s tap room, but whether or not they were greatly appreciated is something that no one properly recalls.

Historically, however, the moment was significant: it would prove to be the only time that Lennon and McCartney ever performed as a duo.

Blue Plaque

The occasion is now remembered in a blue plaque attached to the façade of the pub but, strangely, this is the only obvious reference made to the event on the premises.

When I last visited a few years ago, there were at least a handful of mementoes on display but these seem to have been swept away during a refurbishment that has given the pub a stripped-back, bistro/pizzeria feel.

These days, this one-time Simonds brewery pub is open plan, so the tap room where the lads played is no more. The main area has a modern, minimalist décor – a sea of Mediterranean blue, offset by a little dove grey on the upper walls and ceiling.

Gloopy candles, slathered in dripped wax, illuminate every table and little Barrel & Stone pizza menus reveal the lunching and dining options (there are roasts on Sundays, too).

Fox & Hounds, CavershamBareboard flooring runs from here around to the smaller games section where darts, a pool table and bar billiards can be played.

There’s clearly a keen sporting bias at the pub, as there are screens ready for televised matches and football fans are welcomed, with a shuttle bus service running to Reading FC’s home matches.

But more than sports, more than pizzas and, indeed, more than its musical heritage, what primarily draws customers to the Fox & Hounds today is the beer selection.

Eight handpumps dispense ales from local breweries such as Siren, West Berkshire, Wild Weather and Windsor & Eton, as well as more exotic producers such as Hopcraft or Purple Moose. Six taps do the same for craft keg beers.

Several local CAMRA awards testify to the pub’s popularity with local drinkers, as does a regular listing in the Good Beer Guide.

To reach the Fox & Hounds, take the northern exit from Reading rail station and follow pedestrian signs to Caversham. These lead you over the Thames via the Christchurch footbridge, which was very conveniently opened in 2015.

A ten-minute stroll through Christchurch Meadows – site of the Reading Beer Festival every May bank holiday weekend – in the direction of Gosbrook Road, pitches you up just a few yards along the road from the pub.

If you’re a Beatles fan, it’s a pilgrimage you surely have to make.

The Fox & Hounds, 51 Gosbrook Road, Caversham, Berkshire RG4 8BN.
Opening Hours: 12–midnight; 12–11 Sunday

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