Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 48 front cover

Issue 48 – May 2000


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EDITORIAL Hop Press index

Once again there has been a long break since the last Hop Press, just a year in fact! I can only plead the usual excuse of editorial indolence.

But much has happened in the year since our last issue, not all of it to the pub user's benefit. The entire editorial in the last issue was devoted to the (then) unfinished triangular deal between Marstons, Wolverhampton and Dudley and Greene King. We take up the story from there....

The deal was legally completed by early last summer and now, by this spring, the main practical changes are all in place. All of the hundred or so Marstons' pubs in Hampshire are now part of the giant Greene King estate. External pub liveries are rapidly losing any Marstons' symbols or personalisation and many are getting a new coat of paint in the process [Note to Greene King maintenance department: what has the once pristine Junction, in St Denys, done to be left so down-at-heel?]. Inside, the change over to Greene King beers has produced some interesting results - the IPA has seamlessly replaced the Marstons' Bitter but Greene King's flagship Abbot Ale has been less popularly received and the middle strength Triumph (4.3%) is only to be found in a minority of outlets. Sadly this is even more the case with the excellent XX Dark Mild.

With the entry of Greene King into Hampshire in a big way, we had been apprehensive for a number of our other local breweries. Little did we expect that they would start fighting amongst themselves! The recent news from Horsham is an absolute tragedy for the cause of real ale.

The fine, old King and Barnes Brewery, in the centre of Horsham (could be a clue to some avaricious thinking in this location?) had been receiving unwelcome offers from the Kent brewers, Shepherd Neame, for some months but these seemed to have been successfully repulsed. Then came a board meeting in mid-April and without any warning the board offered the company to Hall and Woodhouse for only a measly few thousand pounds more than the rejected Sheps' bid! Shareholders, workers, drinkers - none of these got so much as the courtesy of having their opinions sought.

Jumping at the offer, Hall and Woodhouse immediately stated that they would close the brewery (part of the Sheps' offer had been a pledge to keep brewing) and would 'review' the present King and Barnes beer range. This must surely spell the end for the justly famous Sussex beers. And what of the workers? They will be hardly likely to find any replacement jobs in the high-price redevelopment of this stockbroker-belt site that is bound to follow.

One especial sadness is the likely fate of the bottled beer line in Horsham. Some years ago, Bass decided to axe the lovely, but low market, bottle-conditioned beer, White Shield Worthington. After much lobbying by CAMRA it was saved by a deal to have it bottled by King and Barnes. Whether Hall and Woodhouse would, or even could, take over this niche product has not been stated.

When our supposed friends stoop to such anti-consumer levels as we have come to expect from the nationals where can we place any faith? I have always liked the low gravity Badger IPA, but it is not as good as the similar gravity Sussex Bitter, however, which would anyone bet on being the one to survive?

Whilst in this dismal mood we must also mark the passing of Ushers. The Trowbridge brewery and its estate of pubs was acquired by the notorious Alchemy group (recently embroiled in the Rover Cars saga). Alchemy immediately set about breaking up the business. The pubs have been formed into a 'pubco' under the less than inspired name of InnSpired Pubs plc, they have been told that they can buy beer from the even less inspired lists of Carlsberg-Tetley. Alchemy clearly want to 'develop' the brewery (also, like King and Barnes, in an urban site) but they let the management believe that a buyout was possible. The management team raised £3.75M but Alchemy said £4M was needed and refused to extend the negotiation time. Several commentators have suggested that a deal would not have gone through whatever figure was raised, believing that Alchemy have other plans for the site.

It is believed that the current range of Ushers' beers will be transferred to the Thomas Hardy Brewery at Dorchester (formerly Eldridge Pope) for contract brewing. How long they will last from there is another bet it would be difficult to get odds on. The fate of contract brews now being produced at Trowbridge (the residue of the Gibbs Mew beers and some beers for wholesalers) is even more obscure.

Now to the larger scale, the national companies, in particular Whitbread. The giant Franco-Belgian company Interbrew, the world's fifth largest brewer, is seeking increased capital by a market flotation of some $7Bn. It wants extra capital to 'finance acquisitions' and in this context attention must focus upon Whitbread. The British group seem very uncertain as to their future course and conversion out of brewing into just a pubco, a la Inntrapreneur, seems a likely course. As Whitbread are the licensed brewers of Interbrew's flagship brand, Stella Artois, then the sale of Whitbread's breweries to Interbrew is an easy prophesy to make.

Would it make much difference? Chances are that it might. It is hard to see Interbrew having an abiding interest in British real ale so the Whitbread brewed cask ales would probably go - not much loss there some might say - but so might the quite reasonable present portfolio of other beers, the Ringwoods, Fullers, Youngs, Brakspears and so forth. This scenario could easily come about if Interbrew introduced supply contracts as part of any deal to buy the breweries, we have seen it before with the other pubco/brewery splits.

Interbrew's flotation is said to be in early summer so by the next Hop Press we should know which way the cat is going to jump.

ROYAL OAK Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

When customers heard last year that Andrew and Eileen Taylor and their three children were to leave the Royal Oak at Fritham there was a great deal of concern over the future of the remote pub. The pub and the adjacent smallholding had been run by the same family for 90 years. It had escaped being "improved" by brewers Whitbread, who later sold the pub to the Devenish Brewery. After the various vicissitudes that befell that unfortunate brewery the pub was eventually purchased by the Taylors. Thus it remained untouched, a small, thatched, country pub with beer drawn straight from the casks lined up behind the bar.

Although the pub is well known to Forest folk, its location, well off the beaten track and not on any through road, has meant that it has never become an antiseptic, tourist pub of which there are all too many examples in the Forest. Today locals and visitors alike get a wonderfully warm welcome, but in years past access to the back bar was by invitation only. Often much jollity could be heard emanating from the back room by the thirsty stranger who may have chanced upon the pub with an apparently deserted single front bar. The lively discussions that have taken place in the pub meant that it got a reputation as the Parliament of the New Forest. In recent times the pub has actually become part of the official political process as it has acted as the polling station at election time.

There was relief all round when the news filtered through that the pub had not been purchased by a brewery and that it would remain a pub. Local residents Clive and Juliet Bowring had bought the property and it was to be run by another local couple, Neil and Pauline McCulloch. The relief however turned again to concern when it became known that there was a planning application to alter the pub. When proposals are made to alter country pubs, bitter experience tells us to fear the worst. When the pub is considered by many to be close to perfect, such fears are magnified. So when the completed works met with a universal agreement that they had improved on perfection, then some serious congratulations are in order.

More plaudits were bestowed when the Royal Oak was voted the pub of the year for 1999 by members of the South Hants Branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The pub has always been recognised as a gem by CAMRA and has regularly appeared in the Good Beer Guide, which lists the best pubs in the country, for more than twenty years. Ironically, it may have been the threat of losing the pub that led to it winning the vote, as members were reminded what a fine pub it is. The award was made on the evening of 27 July when customers from near and far gathered to enjoy a fine barbecue and consume large quantities of liquid refreshment. We are sure that many more awards await the pub that has "got it just right." Find it and try it! On your Ordnance map the reference is 232141...

In the Itchen Valley
Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

On August 29 last, brewing recommenced at the Itchen Valley Brewery. Since brewing had ceased, earlier in the year, founder Simon Brown had sold a majority share holding in the brewery to Malcolm Gray of the James Gray and Son Company. James Gray and Sons are involved in the licensed trade by the somewhat peripheral task of designing signs etc.

Other new faces are Brewery Manager Matthew Nye and Head Brewer Rob Dupree. Rob has been a brewer for many years, starting his career just over the county border at the Hog's Back Brewery in Tongham, where he stayed for six years. This was followed by a three year stint at the Pilgrim Brewery in Reigate and then some time at the now defunct Planets Brewery at Woking.

The revitalised brewery now has more than 50 regular outlets in its main trading area in north and mid Hampshire and into Berkshire and Surrey. Perhaps the most southerly regular outlet is the Avenue Bar in Southampton. In addition to the regular sales outlets another 40 or so pubs take Itchen Valley beers on an occasional 'guest' basis. Additionally, there are sales made through wholesalers and it is hoped that the new bottle conditioned versions of the Itchen Valley beers which are being developed, will appear soon in supermarkets. A new salesman has just been hired, one of whose tasks is to try to expand the trade westwards along the A4/A30 corridor.

Another new venture is the brewery's internet site (www.itchenvalley.com) that will enable drinkers to order beer from the comfort of their own home and to go on a virtual tour of the brewery!

The previous problems with inconsistency at the brewery appear to have been overcome and they are looking for gradual growth through regular local accounts. All the pump clips have been redesigned, along with the beer mats. The 3.8% abv Godfathers now has a bright red logo featuring the bronze medal that the beer won in the 1998 Champion Beer of Britain competition. The other regular beers, Fagins (4.1% abv) and Judge Jeffreys (abv 4.5%) are still being brewed, along with seasonal specials such as Father Christmas (5.5% abv). A new beer, Wykeham Gold, (abv 4.3) was launched in January.

Becketts of Basingstoke Hop Press index

There can't be many breweries that are named after a Northumberland pig but one was established on an industrial estate in Basingstoke in March 1997. Beckett's Brewery was started by Richard Swinhoe, a graduate of Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University School of Brewing, and Neil Lintonbon. Both had previously worked for Fullers in Chiswick, west London.

Their 10 barrel plant came from the former Longstone Brewery, which was in Belford, Northumberland. After spending some time in storage it was rebuilt in a unit of Basingstoke's Daneshill Industrial Estate.

Traditional ingredients and methods are used throughout. The malt is crushed at the brewery because the brewers believe that it gives a fresher product than the alternative of buying in ready crushed malt. Whole hops are used rather than pellets. The mixed yeast strain has been developed from its Hook Norton origins with the addition of a dry yeast.

The brewery also makes great efforts to ensure that the beer reaches customers in optimum condition. About half of each brew is put into casks after a short time in a conditioning tank. These casks then go to well established accounts where the beer will be allowed to mature in the cask before serving. The remainder of the brew is kept longer in the conditioning tank so that when it leaves the brewery it can be served directly it has settled - ideal for licensees whose only experience of real ale is a big brewery product with little or no secondary fermentation.

The biggest seller in the Beckett's range is Original Bitter, a mid-brown 4.0% abv beer with a strong, malty taste balanced by the Northdown, Challenger and Golding hops, that provide a good aftertaste. The 3.7% abv session bitter is Old Town Bitter, in which Fuggles rather than Challenger hops are used and the heavyweight contender is Fortress Ale coming in at 5.0% abv. In summer, Golden Grale is added to the range. Only pale malt and First Gold hops are used in the production of this 4.5% abv beer, which is the brewery's second biggest seller in summer.

These regular brews are supplemented with Porterquack Ales. These are a series of more unusual brews covering a range of beer styles. The name comes from William Cobbett's book "The Cottage Economy" in which he describes how, as more ale was brewed at home, the brewers started to brew more porters to tempt drinkers back to the pubs. These brewers became known as 'porterquacks.' The origins of the name are reflected in the name of one of the beers - Cobbett's Ale. Other in the range include Extra Mild, Bier Blonde, Amber, Porter, Oliver's, Loddon and St Nicholas, to which the components of a Christmas pudding are added during brewing!

Ten or so barrels are brewed each week for the regular outlets, which include the Swan at North Warnborough, the Royal Oak at Lasham, the Hawkley Inn, the Hogshead in Basingstoke, a number of pubs in Whitchurch, and the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Cricket Club. 50 other local pubs have some Beckett's beers on a semi-regular basis. Most of this beer is delivered directly from the brewery although Becketts also deal through wholesalers.

And the Northumberland pig? It comes from the history of the Swinhoe family, one-time farmers on the Northumberland coast. The senior porker, saved for a special village celebration, was known as the 'beckett hog' and was the next for the chop. The future for Beckett's brewery appears to be much brighter.


Every year, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, organises the biggest beer festival in the UK with nearly a quarter of a million pints and around 700 different varieties of real ales, ciders and imported beers (including real lagers).

Amongst the bars there is one with all the finalists for CAMRA's Champion Beer of Britain, another with beers from small breweries that have set up over the last few years and, this year, a bar celebrating the Queen Mother, whose 100th birthday is on the Friday of the Festival. Sponsored by the London brewers, Youngs, this bar will have beers from all around the country, brewed especially to celebrate this happy occasion.

There will be over 30 different varieties of real cider, from the sweetish to the very, very dry, many with alcohol contents of over 8% but all deceptively easy to drink. Alongside the ciders there will also be perry, which is made from pears rather than apples. Many of the perries tend to resemble white wines although of a lesser strength.

But if you prefer foreign tastes, the imported beer bars have beers from Belgium, Holland, the Czech Republic, Germany and the USA, just to name a few. The flavours range from smoked beer (truly!), fruit beers to dark lagers brewed with black malts and looking like a glass of stout!

And the Great British Beer Festival is about more than just beer There are stands selling a variety of differing food styles, craft stalls, games of both skill and chance, a special family room and there is live entertainment every session. The bands include several from the Parlophone/EMI stable and on Friday night the sounds of T-Rextasy

This year (2000), yet again, the Festival will be in the Olympia Exhibition Centre in West London (both the tube and surface trains from Clapham Junction go directly to the doors).

The Festival is open from 5pm on Tuesday, the 1st of August through until 7pm on Saturday, the 5th.

Why not persuade the boss that it would be great team building to have a staff jolly, away day to the Festival - it is not much over an hour from Southampton - the morale index would never look better. Visit the website for corporate/party package details.

Of course, before a visit to our biggest festival it would be wise to get in a bit of training. A few visits to the Southampton Guildhall Beer Festival in early June would be just the thing - see the end papers for details. (sorry, not in on-line version - it'd be a bit out of date by now!)

TIME FOR REFORM? Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

Without the question mark, this is the title of the Home Office's new White Paper on licensing reform, published on April 10th.

The press headlined proposals that could change pub hours, trumpeting the onset of twenty-four hour pubs, but there is much more in the 78 pages of this document than opening hours.

Much more important, in my opinion, is the sweeping changes proposed to how the licensing system itself will be organised. At present, everything involving the sale of alcohol is controlled by the local bench of magistrates (who also conduct the low level criminal courts) and even as seemingly trivial a matter as a landlord changing pubs requires an appearance before the full panoply of the court. Even more, matters such as changing a bar layout for example, have to go through the courts and the local authority planning department and the fire authorities and, if there is, say, space for entertainment, yet another council department for 'music and dancing' licence approval.

If the White Paper reforms go ahead, all of the present mishmash of approvals and licence giving will be combined into one body, under the local authority. The courts will be taken out of pub operations for the first time for over three hundred years.

A key feature is the concept of separating licences into two varieties, a personal licence and a premises licence. The premises licence will be one document covering all styles of from night-clubs to street-corner pubs; it will encompass the alcohol side, the entertainment side and the requested opening hours. The personal licence will, as its name suggests, be awarded to an individual. Once awarded, such a person would be able to operate as the manager or owner of any premises with a premises licence - thus breaking the present anomaly where a landlord is tied to a particular building.

Another, very crucial aspect, is contained in a very simple phrase: "there should be presumption in favour." Refusing a licence, either personal or premises, should only be as a result of provable, concrete objections.

With this conceptually much simpler system, there also comes a simpler way of punishing transgressors. At present, magistrates have only one (big) stick for any landlord's misdemeanour - removal of licence. The proposed new system would be flexible, 'small crimes' would get small punishments, a day's closure, an enforced earlier closing time perhaps; larger problems might involve permanent changes to a pub's operations or style.

As yet there is no timetable for introducing the legislation; it would be nice to think that it might be in the next Queen's speech. We live in hopes.

PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

All fans of the X-Files should make their way to the New Milton/Barton-on-Sea area where the disappearing pub phenomenon continues to strike. First the Red Linnet closed and was replaced by housing (perhaps establishing a base for the perpetrators of these evil deeds). Then the Speckled Trout was replaced by a new Health Centre (we shudder to think what unworldly experiments may be being performed on unsuspecting patients!). During last summer the Ventana Hotel, situated on top of the cliffs at Marine Drive was turned into Oyster's Seafood Restaurant - at a cost of more than a million pounds. Now, the latest pub casualty is the George at Old Milton. It is currently boarded up while the planners consider an office development for the site that would involve demolition of part of the building. The pub had been run for the last 11 years by Anthony and Sheila Carr who said that they were forced to sell up because of falling trade. So not only are the pubs in the area disappearing - so are the customers!

Another pub that will be loosing its customers is the Drummond Arms in Hythe. The pub was one of 75 that the Ale House Company purchased from Whitbread at the beginning of 1999. Prospective developers Propscot Securities Ltd have been given planning permission to convert the building into flats. The Parish Council and the local Chamber of Commerce had objected to the change of use. Both organisations support the redevelopment of the waterfront area with commercial premises rather than homes, to generate more trade, but planners could find no grounds to refuse the permission.

There is better news from a number of other Waterside pubs. The Boathouse in Hythe Marina was re-launched in the summer after being purchased by Seaward Leisure, whilst the Mariner in the High Street has been renamed the Seagull. There is also a fairly new real outlet in Hythe, Ebeneezers, in Pylewell Road, it is converted from a Victorian chapel. The pub does not open on Mondays.

Moving south, the Forest Home at Hardley reopened in the summer after a refurbishment costing some £300,000. The pub had been through various guises in recent years, including a time as part of the Hogshead chain. The new licensees, Darron and Lorraine Fee looked into the history of the pub, which dates from 1879, and old pictures of the pub feature on the menu for the 70 seat restaurant.

It seems that 70 is the magic number for Waterside pub restaurants as the Old Mill at Holbury now also has that size facility following its refurbishment. The work at the pub didn't proceed without incident however as, after complaints from local residents, the Council served tree preservation orders to curtail the deforestation that had occurred when the refurbishment began. The new managers of the pub are Gill and Duncan Naunton. A couple who ran the Old Mill for many years, Christopher and Ann Stables, are now the new licensees at the Swan in Totton, returning to the licensed trade after a gap of 20 years. Also in Totton, the proliferation of signs that appeared on the Elephant and Castle did not meet with the approval of New Forest planners (or most other people for that matter). In their appeal, owners Whitbread claim that the new signs will make the "run-down building far more agreeable and attractive." I wonder who let the building get into its present run-down state in the first place?

A building in Totton that certainly is run-down is the 16th century farmhouse at Hanger Farm, in West Totton. The Council hope to find a brewery who would covert the farmhouse into a pub, while its 18th century barn may become an arts centre.

A new inn has reappeared at Hounsdown, where the Red Deer has reverted to its former, and perhaps now appropriate, name - the New Inn.

Down the A35 at Ashurst we are pleased to greet the first Fullers tied house to the area. The multi-award-winning brewers have been expanding from their Chiswick base in recent years and have a pub at Chinham on the outskirts of Basingstoke. They have now purchased the New Forest Hotel which closed in January for some major alterations to the layout. Let us hope that when it reopens the London Pride and ESB are served as they should be, without tight sparklers attached to the hand pumps. And, please let us see the fine low gravity Chiswick Bitter also on sale.

Further into the Forest, stables at the Rose and Crown in Brockenhurst have been converted into nine additional bedrooms by Eldridge Pope. The pub also has new managers, Kath and Alan Bithell.

The Dorchester brewers have also spent £320,000 on expanding the bar and creating a new kitchen at the Angel in Lymington. The bar at the back of the Angel, the Blue Pig, hosted additional jazz acts which had been due to play at Long's Jazz Cellar after the latter was found to be operating without the required entertainment's licence. Further problems hit Long's when it was flooded in June. Following closure for repairs there was a grand reopening and an entertainment licence is now in place! A Pennington pub that should not face a flooded cellar is the Wheel Inn. The pub's "cellar" is on the ground floor which is being expanded in order to extend the bars and install new toilet facilities.

Two Lymington pubs have lost long standing licensees. Mike and Deane Stevens have left the Waggon & Horses at Walhampton after five years behinds the pumps. The new licensees are Andrew and Angela Hayes. Mike and Mary Shepherd, who ran Lymington's Borough Arms for seven years have left to run a bar in Crete. The new hosts are Mark and Alan Robertson and Sonia Newman, who hail from New Milton.

Staying by the coast, the Red Lion at Milford-on-Sea underwent a major revamp last spring which led to an increase in the bar space, including the creation of a non-smoking area. The range of beers on sale remains the same with Fuller's London Pride, Brakspear's Bitter, Ringwood True Glory and Flower's Original. Milford is the new location for La Palette restaurant which used to based at the Forest Heath Hotel in Sway. The Forest Heath is now run by Jackie Murray, (previously at the Foresters Arms in Brockenhurst), and Linda Beal. Nearby at Sway, the Hare and Hounds is also in new hands after previous licensees Liz and Andy Cottingham moved to the Fisherman's Rest in Lymington, which has reopened after refurbishment. Another pub in the area facing refurbishment is the Three Tuns at Bransgore. A single storey extension and internal alterations will gain abound 30% more space for customers when it reopens on Saint Patrick's Day.

It was free beer for one customer at another Three Tuns, in Romsey. George Beavis has been drinking in the pub for 60 years and to mark the achievement Ringwood Brewery gave George 60 pints of his favourite tipple, Ringwood Best.

Still in Romsey, the Old Horse and Jockey has been put on the market for £375,000. The pub only reopened in 1996, after being closed for 24 years, during part of which it was a veterinary surgery. If you had had a little more spare cash then, for the slightly larger asking price of £425,000, you could have indulged your dream of being a landlord at the Star Inn at East Tytherley. Too late, the pub has now been bought by a consortium of David Atkinson, Paul and Sarah Bringham and Robert Wilkinson.. The group already own the Langtry's Supper Rooms and Lillie's Tea Room and Bakery in Stockbridge.

A brand new pub, although with the emphasis very much on the food trade, is the Old Forge in Otterbourne. The building had been a restaurant for many years but is now a Bass house, following substantial alterations.

Renovation work also took place during the summer at the King's Arms in Winchester, which had been closed for many months. The pub opened for a few weeks but then closed again for further work. It is due to reopen yet again by April.

There were some miserable faces in another Winchester pub, the Crown and Anchor in the High Street, when new owners Greene King, who obtained the pub in their Marstons take-over, instructed the licensee to cancel the popular jazz nights featuring the Andy Dickens Band. The weekly jazz sessions have now resumed, at the refurbished Westgate Hotel. The new licensees at the Westgate are Guy and Helen Carpenter, who were previously at the Albion. £200,000 was spent creating a new, spacious bar area, improving the kitchen and cellar facilities and adding seven en-suite letting bedrooms. In addition to their own beers this Eldridge Pope pub offers beers from Romsey's Hampshire Brewery.

The Dorset brewers have also built six new letting rooms at the Stanmore Hotel. Accommodation is also available at the Heart in Hand in Bar End Road where new licensees Ken and Mary Murphy arrived during the summer. Slightly nearer the city centre, the Black Boy is now a genuine free house and has been offering products of Triple fff, Cheriton and three local breweries. In the very south of the city, we have been pleased to see another pub return to tenancy from management. Formerly Marstons and now Greene King,, the Bell at Saint Cross now has licensees Roy and Susan Skeats, who have been in place since the autumn.

A threat to convert a pub to the east of the city into accommodation of a more permanent kind has rescinded, at least for the time being. Len Larden, owner of Milbury's at Beauworth, applied for planning permission to convert the pub into a residential dwelling. The council did not have to decide on the application as it was withdrawn before it came before the planning committee. Mr Larden claimed that he was only "testing the water" and had no immediate plans to close the pub, which has also been very supportive of the new local breweries in the range of beers it stocks. A pub with planning permission to convert to housing is worth considerably more than a pub without such permission. However, a pub where such permission has been refused is not worth as much as a pub where there is the potential for such permission to be granted. The decision of the city council to refuse such a change regarding the Harvest Home at Denmead has been reiterated following an appeal so perhaps the granting of permission for the Milbury's was less likely than the applicant may have suspected at the time of the application.

A pub that did close, in August, was the Alresford Ale and Cider House. The pub, for years known as the Peaceful Home, was renamed Toulose le Plot just before the end and they presumably did. The site will become three homes. Two other pubs in Alresford remain in business after changing hands during the year. The lease of the Tichborne Arms sold in a matter of days after being put on the market and was purchased by Keith and Jane Day, who have moved to the area from Hook and are new to the licensed trade. The Globe is also in new hands, those of Nigel and Wendy Sutcliffe, who hail from Fleet. Previous licensees Brian and Lynne O'Callaghan are taking a break from the trade after running the pub for a number of years. Just east of the town, the Ship at Bishop's Sutton is also in new hands, with James and Julie McRobbie taking over from Angela and Steve Atherton, who had only been at the Ship a year, after moving from the Cricketers at Easton. They sold the lease of the Ship due to ill health. The Cricketers, meanwhile, is now run by Howard and Debra Tonks. Both the Cricketers and the Ship are owned by Mike Willis.

In the very north of our branch area there are new licensees at the Rack & Manger Jon and Wendy Green in August. The nearby Vistro Restaurant, in Crawley, which was formally the Fox and Hound, has closed. Another pub on the outskirts of Winchester, the King Charles at Springvale, near Kingsworthy, is under new management following the departure of Tony Sowton, who had been in charge for the last five years. A little further west, plans to build a three bed-roomed house next to the Running Horse at Littleton have been thwarted by planners, who had previously granted permission for a single storey side and rear extension to the pub itself.

A somewhat larger housing development is to take place in Bursledon where the Yachtsman is to make way for nine houses. The parish council are putting together a history of the pub and have made an appeal for information on past uses of the much renamed building (Mulligans, the Swan etc.) including any structural alterations that may have taken place. The nearby Jolly Sailor may hope to take advantage of this closure by extending the bar area. Further down the Hamble, the Gaff Rigger bar at the Mercury Marina was purchased by Michael and Joanne Pinewood during the spring of last year.

There have been a number of refurbishments to pubs on the east of Southampton during the past few months. The Sportsman at West End was one such, while the Bitterne Brewery changed its name to the Cat and Mouse as part of its re-launch. The Manor House in Woolston is very much a sports theme pub following refurbishment and some of the advertising on the reopening referred to the Manor Clubhouse. Licensees Dean and Jeannette Ward have won an award from owners Inn Partnership for tripling turnover since the changes were made. Also in Woolston, the new licensees at the New Bridge Inn are Mandy and John Lewis, who have taken over the reigns from Lin and Dave Shrimpton, who had been at the pub for 12 years.

A couple with an even longer stint, 22 years, were Tony and Patricia Pocock. They have retired from the Rat and Parrot in Commercial Road, having been at the pub since the days when it was the Tom Tackle. Unless anyone can tell us differently, Tony and Pat were the longest serving Southampton licensees at the time of their retirement last year. Also retiring during the summer were Pete and Phil Benger from the Park Inn, Shirley. The new licensees at this Wadworth's house are Andy and Carol Maddison. Two more long standing city licensees, Dave and Sandy Bulpitt, are still behind the bar but they now have a different view after the Bevois Castle underwent renovation. As part of the refit local historian Genevieve Bailey helped to research the history of the pub. Alongside pictures of the surrounding area in days gone by, a copy of the pub deeds now adorns the walls. It contains the names of many people that will be familiar to customers through nearby road names.

Historic features of a nearby pub, the Junction at St Denys, now have added protection following the intervention of city councillor Paul Jenks. When he discovered that builders were about to move in to renovate this Victorian pub he contacted English Heritage, who gave the pub a Grade II listing. This means that any alterations will have to gain listed building consent. The pub won a national CAMRA award for a previous refurbishment during which a sympathetic extension was added. And although it certainly needs a lick of paint Greene King should resist any urges to radical alterations.

A listed city pub with a very well documented heritage, the Red Lion in the High Street, has undergone some renovation work. A more serious rebuilding was required for Shirley's Old Thatched House after it was gutted by arsonists. It reopened again in May, complete with its trademark thatched roof, after being closed for a year. A pub that has survived while all the surrounding buildings have been demolished is the Hedgehog and Hogshead in University Road. It has now reopened after extensive refurbishment under its former name the Stile but the pub brewery has gone and it now only offers beers from Scottish Courage.

Another name change has occurred in Bugle Street, where the Atlantic Queen is now the Endevour. A new name appeared in the High Street earlier in the year, the Walkabout, an "Australian theme bar." A further new bar, to be called Varsity, may be appearing in the future in the former Transport and General Workers Union offices in London Road.

Leases are on offer for a number of local establishments: the Bosun's Locker, Upper Bugle Street (£95K), the Bier Keller in London Road (£125K) and the Barge at Bishopstoke Road, Eastleigh (£?). The latter being described as "near to Southampton Airport" as though this might add to the expected trade.

Southampton has acquired yet another new pub, the Grog and Sausage at the Strand, off of Hanover Buildings. The pub is owned by the family that have the famous Sussex Brewery pub at Hermitage near Emsworth; a very good sign.

Another imminent opening, in the middle of April, will be Southampton's third Wetherspoons outlet, in Shirley Road, close to the police station. We understand that the name will be the Brightwater Inn but so far no one has been able to give any explanation as to why! Another one-time potential Wetherspoons outlet, in Oxford Street, seems unlikely to come to fruition as another company has applied to open a restaurant at the intended premises. Planners have refused permission to open yet another pub in the area around Tyrrell and Green. One of the existing pubs in the area, the West Park, has been renamed Voltz, whatever that means.

While new pubs are opening in Southampton other pubs are being demolished. The Swan (the former Fighting Cocks) in Millbrook, has been razed to the ground to make way for a drive through McDonald's plus a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Fire destroyed the Vine Inn in Portswood Road, which may now be replaced by four flats. Flats could also replace the former, long closed, Greyhound Inn in Cossack Green.

Mention of these closing pubs brings us back to our opening theme, and perhaps the FBI have been alerted. After all, when a former US president stays overnight in a Hampshire pub there must be more to it than meets the eye. The pub in question was the Mill Arms at Dunbridge, where former White House resident Jimmy Carter stayed in October. Ostensibly in the area for a spot of fly fishing on the Test, the famous peanut farmer sampled the delights of Hampshire Brewery's Pride of Romsey and Boondoggle from Ringwood Brewery. Presumably CAMRA's Good Beer Guide is one of the more sought after books in the Library of Congress...

Hop Press issue number 48 – May 2000

Editor: Pat O'Neill
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023 8064 2246

© CAMRA Ltd. 2000