Pub landlord Steve Mace has been so dedicated to his customers that he got on his bike to deliver them beer during the pandemic.

Mr Mace has been in charge at the Morris Clown in Bampton for 33 years and has now been presented with a long service certificate from the Oxford branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 Steve took to his bicycle to deliver ale to his customers’ homes, often in harsh winter weather and still in the shorts he always wears.

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Mr Mace arrived at the West Oxfordshire pub in 1990.

Celebrating the CAMRA long service award, he told the Oxford Drinker magazine: "I don’t have a wife, children or mortgage, so I’m very cheap to run. We’ve always had loyal customers and most are good friends.

"The most important thing about retirement is having something to do - but this is my life.

"When I lived in London I always wore trousers, but now I’m the boss of an old boozer I wear shorts. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."

Witney Gazette: Steve Mace delivers beer

Mr Mace's father Thomas had taken on the Morris Clown in 1976 as he ran a pub in London but with a large family he wanted one with five bedrooms.The Morris Clown, then a Courage house and recently renamed from the New Inn, actually had six.

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The Mace family have been in the licensed trade for about 200 years and come from Yorkshire, with his grandfather running the Oddfellows Arms in Bedale (now the Three Coopers) until 1965.

When the infamous “Beer Orders” of 1989 forced large breweries such as Courage to dispose of many pubs, the Morris Clown passed to various pub companies including Phoenix and Namura with Steve Mace buying the property in 1998 and as a sitting tenant, he got a good deal.

Since then it has been a free house and, unusually for a small country town, does not serve food but only drinks, opening in the evenings only except at weekends.

The Morris Clown is a Grade II listed stone building dating from the 18th century, with some of the stones in its large rear garden coming from a demolished castle.

Inside it has murals painted by Mr Mace's first stepmother in the 1970s, depicting the Moulin Rouge and other French scenes in the style of painter Toulouse-Lautrec.

The title Morris Clown is controversial, and this is the only pub with this name in the country.

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The pub sign actually shows a Morris Fool (which dancing teams have) rather than a clown, and although Morris Dancing is a popular local pastime, the town’s dancers boycotted the pub because of its name for many years.

Real ales served have included Butts Traditional, a beer from an organic brewery near Hungerford, Berkshire; and a golden seasonal ale from Abingdon brewery Loose Cannon called Marzen Boy.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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