Newark pub The Wheatsheaf re-opens as The Clay Tavern
7:30am Wed Feb 04, 2015
A landlady says she wants to retain a traditional pub atmosphere after the refurbishment and reopening of a town centre pub.
Landlady Katherine Howitt outside The Clay Tavern
Landlady Katherine Howitt outside The Clay Tavern
Mrs Katherine Howitt, who has worked in the pub industry for more than 20 years, says the reopening of The Wheatsheaf as The Clay Tavern, on Slaughterhouse Lane, Newark, marks a new chapter in the pub’s history.

She has renamed the pub after former Newark mayor Hercules Clay, despite objections from regulars who felt the change was an insult to the memory of former landlord Mr Ben Vidler.

Mr Vidler, who ran the pub with his wife, Tracey, for more than 20 years, died of cancer just before Christmas.

Mrs Howitt said she chose to associate the pub with Hercules Clay because it seemed natural to name it after a local hero.

Mr Clay was a cloth merchant, churchwarden and a former mayor during the 17th Century.

He provided poor people with penny loaves and correctly predicted his house would be hit by a mortar during the English Civil War when recurring dreams made him move his family out of the building.

Mrs Howitt said: “He was a charitable person and we would like to put on charity events here.

“I’m looking to set something up between the pub and the (parish) church because there is a service dedicated to Hercules every year.”

Mr Marcus Hopes, area operations manager for Marston’s, which owns the pub, said he understood why some regulars opposed the change of name.

“It wasn’t done as a mark of disrespect to the former landlord,” he said.

“We felt we were closing this chapter and giving the pub a fresh start.

“We opened on Friday and over the weekend there were several regulars who said they liked the pub, even if some of them wanted to hate it.

“A lot of pubs have changed in Newark. I want this to be a nice, local pub, which people can learn to love.”

Some of those opposed to the name-change posted on the Advertiser website.

Natalie Cove said: “This pub will forever be The Sheaf to me and many others. All these old pubs around Newark have been refurbished and rebranded, but this particular one is special. Let it keep the same name at least...”

Andrew Hodson said: “How to alienate your locals — change everything about the pub and name it something different.

“Instead they should have capitalised on its heritage and listened to the locals.”

Andy McIntosh called it: “(A) terrible decision and an insult to the Vidlers and the customers.”

Opening hours are noon-11pm on weekdays and noon-midnight at weekends.

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