PUBLIC houses in Salisbury have a fascinating history and it is a sign of the times that so many have either closed down, or are standing empty awaiting their fate. The Coach and Horses in Winchester Street has been vacant for some time also The Queens Arms in Brown Street.

Another pub standing empty with an uncertain future is the Royal Oak at the top end of Devizes Road. This establishment was built in 1939 and should be celebrating its 80th birthday this year – but I doubt if any glasses will be raised anytime soon...

The Royal Oak started life after Messrs Gibbs Mew closed the old Royal Oak in Culver Street and transferred the licence to the new house after permission was granted at the City Licensing Sessions. The first licensee was Ernest Gough who had previously pulled the pumps at the Victoria Arms, Wilton.

The architects, Bothams and Brown, of Salisbury, designed an attractive public house, the highlight being the clear view across the village of Stratford-sub-Castle to Old Sarum Rings. Realising the obvious attraction of this, the architects made practically the whole length of the eastern wall of the lounge one long plate-glass window.

The interior design was also impressive – walls were finished with marblecote, a patent plaster which, when set hard, had a washable surface. In the lounge the colour scheme was bluish green at the lower levels, gradually merging into cream at the ceiling. The floors and counters were of teak, the bars and some of the other furniture had special burn-proof tops, which was also said to be immune from beer and wine stains – the furniture was leather-upholstered throughout.

The building was erected by Messrs AJ Dunning and Sons, of Weyhill and Salisbury firms associated with its creation were Carter and Son, of Salt Lane, Powell and Sheppard, of Heath Road and Dudley C Jennings, of Wilton Road.