Historic Boat Race pub reopens with a modern twist

Popular Putney pub The Duke’s Head has reopened after refurbishments earlier this year gave the boat race pub the ‘little bit of love’ it needed, according to the establishment’s manager.

The 150-year-old pub, located on the start line of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, houses four very different spaces — the Rowing Club, a private hire wedding room, the pub and an airy restaurant conservatory.

Refurbishments, which took place between January and February, added a street food shack and stone floor to the downstairs Rowing Club.

Pub manager Rob Rigby said the street food offering arose after the grade II listed building couldn’t be fitted with the necessary infrastructure to expand the current kitchen.

The two-year manager said: “We couldn’t put any extraction in the kitchen, so we had to think outside the box in terms of what facilities we could have and what sort of food we could do.

“We slow cook a lot of food so it can be heated and served downstairs, but it has actually made the menu a lot more interesting in the long run because we’ve had to get over those challenges.”

Rob admitted his pride at being the first Young’s pub to offer street food to its customers.

On what he loved most about his job, Rob added: “It’s like there’s four personalities all in the same place, my favourite thing is the fact there’s so much variety for me; it keeps you on your toes.”

“Because it is a busy pub, it just needed a little bit of love, and it was nice for me to start a couple of years ago, get used to how the pub works and the kind of people who come here, and then base what we were going to do on that.”

Rob’s emphasis on the community was made evident by the local businesses invited to attend, including husband and wife team, Emma and Andrew Whiting.

The couple founded Far Reaches Gin after being inspired by tastes from their travels and setting up a hand-distilled process in London of 500-lites at a time.

Emma said: “We are so pleased to be invited to the relaunch as the Duke’s Head has been incredibly supportive of Far Reaches Gin.

“It’s brilliant to meet other local business and the community, and the renovations of the pub and the Rowing Club look incredible.”

The Duke’s Head is situated in Putney along the River Thames, and hosts live music, comedy nights as well as being a fully licenced space for wedding ceremonies.

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