Herefordshire CAMRA



Black Swan, Much dewchurch

The Black Swan at Much Dewchurch being named Herefordshire Pub of the Year 2021 has completed a trio of reasons to celebrate.

2019 was a special year for licensee, Gill Constance, as she picked up the Herefordshire Cider Pub of the Year award and celebrated with her customers twenty-five years behind the bar. And over all that time she has stayed resolute to her traditional principles, as the Black Swan remains steadfastly an old-fashioned pub in the very best sort of way. It’s precisely the type of village pub many of us would dream to have plonked on our doorsteps. And it has now been further rewarded with the overall Herefordshire Pub of the Year award for 2021

What has been thrown away in a headlong rush to chic modernity in too many other pubs, still stands proud at the Black Swan. It has four separate bars. In the middle section of the pub is the main bar area replete with a roaring fire and inviting window alcoves. At one end is a more basic bar with pool table and TV, whilst at the opposite end is a small lounge featuring two comfy 1980s-style sofas and a piano, beyond which is a restaurant boasting a grand fireplace, numerous curios, lithographs and a wonderful old sideboard. Finally, upstairs is a room for private functions and meetings – how many pubs still have one of those? The pub does reveal a few frayed edges in places, but this is easily forgiven considering there isn’t a single piece of IKEA-inspired furniture to be seen; its decor recalls to one how so many village pubs used to be. What is more, this one sits right at the beating heart of a vibrant village community.

Black Swan, Much Dewchurch, Hereford, HR2 8DJ; Telephone: (01981) 540295; Open: 12-3, 5.30-11 Mon-Fri; 11.30-3, 5.30-11 Sat; 12-4, 6-11 Sun; Meal Times: 12-2, 7-9 daily.


Vaga, Hereford

The Name the Romans Gave Us

City pub is named Autumn Pub of the Season

The Pub of the Season Autumn 2022 this year goes to Hereford’s Vaga Tavern. Vaga is the Roman word for the Wye river, which I didn’t know before writing this. Every day is a school day!

The Vaga Tavern is situated in Hunderton Close to the river (and a foot & cycle path) and run by Landlady, Becky Clyde. Becky is a Mum of three and a Herefordian, born and bred. The pub was still owned by Marstons when she first held the licence in 2012 but within a few weeks Wye Valley Brewery purchased it. Becky is due to celebrate her first 10 years as landlady on 5th November.

The Vaga is large - on first visiting I was struck by how big it is. It is a detached building standing proudly at the end of Vaga Street. It has two bars, a skittle alley, a pool table, large garden at the rear and quite a generous car park (which has escaped the eye of potential developers.) The bar, to the left as you enter, has a cosy woodburning stove and the other bar and skittle alley both have TVs for football. The garden has extensive seating, some of it covered, and a children’s play area. The pub stages live music once a month in addition to regular bingo. The Vaga has darts, skittles and pool teams.

The pub has stood here since around 1870 and when it first opened there was a ferry operating from the river bank behind another close-by pub, Hunderton Villa on Villa Street. The ferry continued operating until 1960. The Vaga Tavern luckily has not met the same fate as Hunderton Villa which closed in the early 1960’s and another nearby pub, the Belmont Inn, demolished in 1999 to make way for McDonalds.

The Vaga has a charity fundraising vein running through it. Recently Becky and a pub regular cycled 103 miles to raise money for a young local girl who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. They amassed an impressive £2,307! Over the last 10 years with Becky at the helm the Vaga has raised over £10,000 for the Special Care Baby Unit at Hereford County Hospital.

CAMRA member and branch contact for Herefordshire, Mike Jefferis has known the Vaga Tavern since the late 1960’s when he met his future wife, Sally who lived in the Hunderton area. Mike’s father-in-law-to-be used the Vaga Tavern as his local and would meet his naval pals there, the landlord at the time was called Mac. Mike recalls that there “was one occasion when there was talk of Banks brewery taking over the pub and the locals were up in arms about it and threatening to boycott the place. Well, the day arrived and the Banks beer was cheaper and quite quaffable, so the resistance failed and everyone carried on as if nothing had happened. I think it was one of the M&B pubs before.”

The Vaga Tavern truly deserves its Pub of the Season award for all it does for the local community. Like a lot of things associated with Roman occupation of Britain, the word Vaga remains in public consciousness, thanks to this Wye Valley pub. It’s only a short walk along the river from Greyfriars bridge, so pop along to raise a pint to this friendly pub and its hardworking landlady, Becky. Jon Powell

The Vaga Tavern, Vaga Street, Hereford, HR2 7AT, Telephone (01432) 509927, Open: Mon 3-10.30; (Tue Closed); Wed 3.30-10.30 pm; Thu 3-10.30; Fri 2-midnight; Sat noon–midnight; Sun noon-10

Recent Pubs of the Season

 Tap House, Ross-on-Wye
Spring2022: Tap House, Ross-on-Wye
Autumn2020: Nag’s Head, Peterchurch
Spring2020: Bells, Almeley
Winter2019: Monkland Arms, Monkland
Autumn2019: Major’s Arms, Halmonds Frome
Summer2019: England’s Gate, Bodenham
Spring2019: Lichfield Vaults, Hereford
Winter2018: Crown, Dilwyn
Autumn2018: Red Lion, Stiffords Bridge
Summer2018: Oak Inn, Staplow
Spring2018: Olde Tavern, Kington
Winter2017: Red Lion, Pembridge
Autumn2017: Moon Inn, Mordiford
Summer2017: Hostelrie, Goodrich
Spring2017: Balance, Luston
Winter2016: Black Swan, Much Dewchurch
Autumn2016: Talbot Hotel, Ledbury
Summer2016: Alma Inn, Linton
Spring2016: Oak Wigmore
Winter2015: Queen’s Arms, Bromyard
Autumn2015: Red Lion, Stiffords Bridge
Summer2015: Carpenters Arms, Walterstone
Spring2015: New Inn, Fownhope
Winter2014: Chase Inn, Upper Colwall
Autumn2014: Red Lion, Peterstow
Summer2014: Baron’s Cross, Leominster
Spring2014: Green Dragon, Bishops Frome
Autumn2013: Bridge Inn, Kentchurch
Summer2013: Royal George, Lingen
Spring2013: Wheelwrights, Pencombe
Winter2012: Crown, Woolhope
Autumn2012: Slip Tavern, Much Marcle
Summer2012: Wheatsheaf, Whitbourne