Century-old pub undergoes major refurbishment and name-change (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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The Royal Oak pub in Hale End Road will no longer keep the same name when it re-opens 10 weeks from now
A pub dating back to the mid 19th century is to be re-designed and re-named as part of a major refurbishment.
The Royal Oak pub, in Hale End Road, Woodford Green, is now closed until August in order to carry out the extensive interior and exterior works.
Landlady Sandra Duncan, 49, took over the privately-owned pub from Sharon Pearce four years ago after working there since 2006.
Prior to its closure last week, the pub showed football matches and hosted frequent karaoke nights, but didn't serve hot food, although this is all due to change in 10 weeks.
"The pub needed a major make-over, it was completely shabby inside and for years upon years no work has been done to it," Ms Duncan said.
"We are going to sell hot food and make this a good all-round child-friendly, family pub. It will be the best pub in Highams Park."
The pub, known for its patriotism and annual celebrations of St George's Day, is to be re-painted to replace the current cream and red design.
Treasurer Andrew Golds of Highams Park Society said the change of name is a shame.
He said: "I am sorry the Royal Oak name is to disappear as it has been a part of the heritage of Highams Park and Hale End for over one hundred and fifty years.
"However by being remodelled I hope we will have a new family-friendly eating house which will be an popular asset in this corner of Highams Park."
The major revamp is the result of it being sold to a new leaseholder, said to be expanding Irish pub chain Tommy Flynn's.
Ms Duncan has not denied the recent purchase by the company and has decided to keep the pub's new name a secret until nearer its opening in August.
The present building was built in 1906, and replaced a cottage-like dwelling that had been a beer house with the same name since the mid-19th century.
It was the first pub to be built in Highams Park and was shortly followed by the opening of The County Arms in Hale End Road in 1909.
Ms Duncan has said regardless of the name change, people will always associate the Oak Hill pub as The Royal Oak.
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