It has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ or England's ‘Independence Day’ – this Saturday, July 4, is the day lockdown begins to end for millions of expectant Brits.
Most pubs, bars and restaurants will reopen this weekend, but coronavirus is still out there and to prevent the transmission rate rising, things will look pretty different.
The Tuppenny pub in Devizes Road, Old Town already prides itself on doing things differently. Over the last three and a half years it has built a reputation as Swindon’s finest specialist purveyor of craft drinks; a veritable emporium of brewed, distilled and fermented greatness, all served up in a cosy space featuring re-purposed and up-cycled furniture with its own, quirky decor, not to mention a cornucopia of old school board games
But what could publicans Linda Gulliford and Jamie Stapleton at The Tuppenny tell us about the post lockdown and the new normal in independent pubs like theirs?
“Our absolute priority when we reopen is to make sure we do everything we can to make sure everyone is safe – staff, patrons and ourselves."
“When people arrive at The Tuppenny they will be greeted at the door where we will take their personal details in case the authorities need to track anybody at a later date. We will also be limiting the numbers of people who come in because of social distancing.”
“Inside, there will be no standing at the bar; in fact, no standing anywhere in the pub, and it will be table service only. Also, we will have different people carrying out different tasks, so the person serving the drinks will be different from the person who is collecting the drinks in rubber gloves.”
“In many ways, we will be operating more like restaurateurs than publicans. We are in the hospitality business but things might be less hospitable for a while, but we’ll be as sociable as ever!”
“As a specialist pub we have our ardent regulars and we have kept in touch with them during lockdown on social media. Recently we’ve been asking them about what they expect post lockdown and what they will feel comfortable with.”
So were they expecting a mad rush this weekend? “It’s quite hard to say from the feedback we have received; some people seem cautious about coming back to crowded places, but others are desperate to get back and will be queuing at the door as soon as we open!”
Visit Swindon couldn’t end the conversation without asking about the tale behind the name The Tuppenny.
“It all started with some gin, as so many good stories do (or should do) and a small amount of historical knowledge and research. In Victorian England, there were essentially two types of gin to choose from, penny gin, and tuppenny gin. Penny gin was cheap, in plentiful supply, and pretty awful. This was the rough old bathtub concoction that became nicknamed ‘mother’s ruin’.”
“Tuppenny gin was a much more refined, premium product. The tuppenny prefix consequently found itself attached to many products that had a two or more, tiered pricing structure to reflect the quality of the product. The tuppenny stuff was always top drawer, the good stuff. And so the term “Tuppenny” filtered into the common vernacular, as a way of reference to a top end something or other. “As your mother’s coming over, I didn’t scrimp on the bread flour, I got the tuppenny stuff!”
“Everything The Tuppenny sells, would be considered the tuppenny stuff. This also led us on to our logo and colour scheme. The first stamp issued by the newly founded Royal Mail was the well-known penny black. This was fine for letters, but what if you wanted to send a parcel? The Royal Mail issued the Tuppenny Blue. A higher class of stamp and the inspiration for our logo!”