The Old Tom (Morrells) St Aldates, Oxford. Tel. Oxford (01865) 243034. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am to 11pm Sunday 12 to 3pm, 7pm to 10.30pm Oxford Bitter £2.00 Varsity £2.10 (18.vii.2001) Morrells Trinity £2.30 ( Steak and ale pie £5.95 (18.vii.2001) Stephen Gower writes: Traditionally NuMorrelled, with beermats and other items stuck to the walls and ceilings at jaunty angles. The place feels very orange due to the lights, although this does stop the pine cladding having too much of a Swedish sauna feel. Unfortunately the new landlord probably heard your correspondent (being very fond of the Tom pre-refit) making comments to this effect. The Varsity tasted soapy and although the landlord said there was nothing wrong with it ("beer is my life"), he exchanged it as a matter of policy ("the customer is always right"); the Bitter was fine. The garden is much as it ever was - flowers are more glorious and the shelter is gone. I do hope no one spends too long waiting out front for the night bus to Trafalgar Square. ( Editorial note: There's metal tables and chairs in the tiny garden now, rather than the plastic white ones I remember a few years ago when I met Sophie's Uncle Eustace from Sri Lanka out here. The seasonal ale, Morrells Trinity, was rather good. In the inside the NuMorrellsing is a lot more restrained than the early examples, though why they couldn't have left the pub as it was I don't know. Branding, I expect. ( Mark Dickerson adds: It's more restrained than some and - what's this, something good - there's padding for the low ceiling between the two bar areas. The beer was fine and the food pleasant enough. I tried to like the changes, I really did. Then I spotted the guide to Ye Olde Authentic Ruined NuMorrells Alehouses with sepia-effect pictures of the Bookbinders', the piped music started missing like the deserts miss the rain, and realised I do nostalgia a whole lot better than Morrells of Oxford. (18.vii.2001) Old review ---------- New management recently - a fairly standard Morrells-issue man-with-beard in place of the two old women who used to run it. Full range as you can see above, of Morrells stuff. A cosy and welcoming place with a paved garden out the back, and now a squiggly sign telling us that it was called Jacob's Well till the last century when it became the Old Tom and now the Great Tom. An innovation is Morrells Old Don (4.8%), which appeared in November. No price fix on it yet I'm afraid. (28.ii.2000) The Old Don wasn't at its best here, but it was really rather good indeed at The Prince of Ales on Cowley Road. (30.iii.2000) Liz Beaumont Bissell writes: A rather high-Christchurch place as I recall, much frequented by people from that college apres-choir. Small, reassuring, minute garden. Owen Massey writes: I wouldn't describe the Old Tom as 'small' so much as 'tiny'. The fancy glass on the outside makes it look rather like a sweetshop, which, together with its narrow frontage, means you'll probably have walked past it without noticing. It's usually quiet on a Saturday night, which is worth knowing. Whenever I've been in there the divide of ChCh undergraduates and locals has been reasonable; the bar staff were friendly to all of us. Ed Turner updates: The Old Tom used to be my favourite pub in Oxford. The Irishman you recall being the landlord is in fact Tony O'Reilly, brother of Noel, who is the legendary landlord of the Jude. A favourite haunt of local councillors and the local Labour Party - usually mixing uneasily with Christ Church people - and tremendously friendly. Then Morrells stepped in; they made Tony "an offer he couldn't refuse", apparently, and decided to turn it into a managed pub which would appeal more to "students" - not our kind of students, I suppose. So it'll probably be nu-Morrells, and another nice pub down the spout. (24.iv.2001)