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Uncle Henry's... 'Not your average pub!'

Take a trip down memory lane with us to Newbury's 'alternative' watering hole

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

Uncle Henry's....'Not your average pub!'

IT was the day the music died.

A much loved Newbury institution, Uncle Henry's went up in flames in October 2006.

But as Simon Owens, who was licensee of the nearby Monument, said: "Uncle Henry's wasn't your average pub. For lots of people it represented more of a lifestyle and folk were deeply affected by its loss."

The place was a second home to an assorted bunch of rockers, goths, punks and other fans of alternative music and culture, spawning several homegrown bands and ska collectives.

Its licensee, Ben Holden said: “There was nowhere else in town like it. We had the most varied jukebox and a great
crowd. It was the people that made it special, but music definitely defined the pub. We’re all mad about our music
and the place revolved round it.”

The dingy, cave-like interior was enlivened by an outlandish, sci-fi mural by local artist Adam Lynch, of the town’s Nitty Gritty Tattoo Studio, in nearby Sadlers Court.

The pub had been made subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order to make way for the Park Way redevelopment, but Mr
Holden said: “We had hoped for another year, at least, possibly more.”

Mr Holden, who has been barman, assistant manager and licensee in his seven years at the pub, said: “I haven’t the
heart to continue in the trade now. I’ll try something different.”

Regular customer Ben Stretton, then aged 19, said: “I would come over from Hungerford just for the atmosphere. I’ve
been in pubs all over England and never found one as welcoming as Uncle Henry’s. You could make friends so
easily in there.”

Newbury musician Kyle Ainsworth, who was a 19-year-old lead guitarist with rock band Serotonin, agreed, saying: “It was
really friendly and laid back...just a great place to chill out and have a beer.”

Uncle Henry’s Free House, to give it its full name, opened on the site of the former Captain’s Cabin in October 1997.

Owner Jim Clarke, who now lives in Leicestershire, said at the time: “It is going to be completely different.”

Mr Holden, who took over as licensee from Imogen Dawes, summed up the feelings of many
as he surveyed the ashes this week and said: “There’ll never be another Uncle Henry’s."

* WE want to hear your memories of Uncle Henry's. And dig out those old photos. Immediately. Then send the lot to

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Article comments

  • NoisyNortherner

    13/04/2018 - 11:11

    I was unfortunately never able to frequent this place, but it's sad that somewhere similar hasn't cropped up in Newbury. There are other bars and pubs with different takes, but aside from the Monument, they all feel kind of sterile in comparison. Pity.