James May bought local pub to stop 'life becoming meaningless'

James May didn't want to lose his local pub credit:Bang Showbiz
James May didn't want to lose his local pub credit:Bang Showbiz

James May bought his local pub so he still has a boozer in walking distance.

The 61-year-old presenter - who is known for fronting 'Top Gear' and 'The Grand Tour' with co-stars Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond - now has a half share in the Royal Oak at Swallowcliffe, Wilts to help ensure its future.

Appearing on the 'Lock In' podcast, he said: "It occurred to me that if that pub disappears, there wouldn't be a pub within walking distance of the house - and life would become meaningless."

He also encouraged Jeremy to buy a pub near his brewery in the Cotswolds.

James previously insisted that bars need "clean bogs and good food" to find success, with fewer people going to their locals after a massive decline over the couple of decades.

One in four pubs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have close their doors since 2001, while the Campaign For Real Ale had claimed a further 30 bars are shutting each week.

James told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I've been thinking about this one for a while. In this day and age a good pub has to serve decent food.

"Not all bars can be blessed with a good location. I live in London and my local pubs in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Fulham are located near the river. The best spots have outside areas which are brilliant during the summer.

"But, I believe that for pubs to survive in future they have to adapt to the times and provide more activities."

He insisted if a pub does close down, it was "because it was not good enough to survive", and owners need to think about more offerings besides sports on the television.

He suggested: "Imagine a pub where you could learn how to paint, or learn Spanish or maybe woodworking.

"The people who complain 'we are losing the pub' are the very people who are never seen in the bar. They like the idea. The role of the pub in society has changed."

He insisted society - and thus the demand for pubs and bars - has changed over the years, while some are still "sentimental about old world" venues.

James explained: "These places were a 'home from home', where single men came in for some food because they could not look after themselves. They have to move with the times."