Around 40 years after it closed for business a derelict pub in Reading has gone up for sale.

The former Horse & Barge in Duke Street, which had also been known as Ye Olde Lower Ship, closed in the mid 1980s.

Tadcaster-based Samuel Smith Brewery, which has owned it throughout the time it has been closed, has now put the building up for sale through Campbell Gordon and Brecker Grossmith.

Although a pub has existed on the site for hundreds of years, the current 8,344 sq ft building dates from 1889. A number of proposals have been put forward to the brewery during its years of dereliction but none has proceeded.

Now the 0.22-acre site which has parking at the rear and former hotel rooms above the pub, is on the market either for redevelopment, conversion or continuing its existing permission.

Campbell Gordon director Duncan Campbell said: “It’s being sold on an unconditional basis so we are not looking to sell it subject to planning.

“It’s for someone to buy it and implement their own commercial strategy. It could continue to run as its current use allows or it could be something different.”

He said the building is not listed but is in a conservation area so there will be restrictions on what can be done. The site is close to where The Oracle plans a major high-density residential scheme.

He added: “Whether it continues in its historic use or a new use, it needs work and it needs to be commercially viable for whoever buys it.

“There is a good degree of appeal in the existing building but it’s also a good location that could suit redevelopment that would be sympathetic to what’s going on in Reading.

“There’s a lot going on in that location – it’s in a very exciting part of town.

“We’ve had good interest and, because the building is well known – it’s something people have walked past over many years – the fact that we are marketing it has become a topic of conversation in the property community. We have had quite a lot of approaches and we are having a number of discussions.

“In terms of what it could be, there could be a continued leisure use. It’s by the river and the London Street Brasserie in a nice spot with some riverside frontage. It could be a really celebrated spot but it could also work as residential use.”

He said the numbers of recent lettings at The Village (formerly King’s Walk) has improved the area which could benefit either a residential or leisure scheme.

“Certainly, we would not be looking at offices, but residential or leisure-related uses make sense.”

Samuel Smith Brewery declined to comment.

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive our weekly free journal, The Forum here.