Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 55 front cover

Issue 55 – March 2004


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EDITORIAL Hop Press index

It seems that editions of Hop Press of late have been very full of items concerning the wonderful workings of our beloved planning departments. This one is no exception, and it is also no exception that it contains little of good cheer.

A couple of editions ago we reported the seeming success of efforts to thwart the closure of an historic country pub – the Shearer's Arms at Owslebury. After an earlier rebuff the Winchester Council voted down another application for closure by ten votes to one. However the licensee/owner, Mr Sutherden, was not giving up a possible £¼m property value gain that easily and with the help of a local firm of 'planning consultants' entered an appeal.

The appeal hearing, which we attended, was on January 13th and was a dispiriting affair. The inspector, a lawyer with town planning qualifications, took a very legalistic view of evidence – only aspects that precisely related to paragraphs in the Winchester Local Distinct Plan, the Hampshire County Structural Plan or the Government Planning Policy Guides got any attention whatever. Three hundred years of history; the grotesque distortions of the property market in our rural area (which had to remain unsaid, as not germane); the ways in which pubs can lose, and as crucially gain, public appeal and the vastly differing catchment areas that pertain to differing style pubs all went unconsidered. No consideration was given to the fact that the Shearer's is (was) that very rare thing, a genuine truly free house. Nor were mentions of several alleged attempts by local entrepreneurs to having made bids for the pub as a going concern but being subsequently rebuffed allowed to carry any weight.

Mr Sutherden – and good luck to him, he has only used the rules that our planners have devised – stands to make many hundreds of thousands from the inspector's signature at the end of the six page document allowing the appeal.

Previous issues have given a broad account of the new Licensing Act which was signed into law in July last year, but already its implementation seems to be running into difficulties.

With such a sweeping change in the whole structure and ethos of hundreds of years of hotchpotch licensing legislation the Act provides for a series of defined steps to ensure an orderly transfer of powers and responsibilities from the magistracy to local government – these steps are already getting out of kilter.

One of the first things that local authorities have to do is set up licensing subcommittees (on the lines, ominously, of their long standing planning subcommittees) and then to determine and publish their 'Licensing Policies.' Before either of these things however, the Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, has to lay before Parliament, for its approval, a set of Guidance Notes which will then be issued to the local authorities, Until this guidance is issued the authorities cannot properly proceed. This should have happened well before Christmas last, but it is now the end of February and the document has still not appeared before Parliament – even then it has to be tabled for forty days before approval and if Parliament should require any amendments a further forty days will ensue! So mid-April is the very earliest that this vital document can now see the light of day.

Along with these guidelines, the DCMS were also due to produce the all important scale of fees for licensing operations. These too seem to be lost somewhere in a Ministerial mist…

As all of the subsequent timings in the Act follow on, these delays will push the final full changeover back towards the second half of 2005. Not a good start Ms Jowell.

The mega-brewer S & N (Scottish & Newcastle) looks set to become a lot more geographically challenged.

After 250 years of brewing on the site they are about to close their Fountainbridge brewery in Edinburgh with the loss of 170 jobs.

The brewery, originally McEwan's, is now their only brewery in Scotland and although it produces vast amounts of Fosters and Millers lagers it also makes a small amount of real ale, notably their only truly Scottish beer, McEwan's 80/- Ale (a beer sometimes sold as Younger's IPA, after another brewery they once owned that is now the site of the emerging Scottish Parliament building). As part of the S & N plan they will move production of the 80/- to the Caledonian brewery, makers of the widely available, prize-winning Deuchars IPA. They also seem intent on buying the Caledonian brewery, which will probably be the real disaster.

With this closure, rumour also abounds about the Newcastle brewery – the hot tip is that this site will also go and its well known Brown Ale will be sent across the Tyne to be contract brewed there by the Federation brewery. An S & N spokesman, asserting that 'we've no plans at present…' does not convince.

Finally, some unquestionably good news. A popular Southampton establishment (see cover picture) has been awarded one of CAMRA's very highest accolades.

Congratulations go to the South Western Arms, next to St. Denys station, which has been voted a runner-up in the national final of the Campaign's annual 'Pub of the Year' competition.

This competition starts each year with individual branches (CAMRA has about 150 nationwide) selecting their own local 'Pub of the Year' as being the pub in their area they consider as doing the most for the cause of real ale. These later go forward for consideration as area finalists (the South Western has been a Wessex area finalist several times). Area winners then go to a national panel who select four finalists, the position of the South Western. This year's winner was the Crown & Thistle at Gravesend in Kent and the three, equal, runners-up were the South Western, the Marquis of Granby at Granby in Nottinghamshire and The Taps at Lytham St. Anne's, Lancashire. Well done all.


THE WINTON CODEX? Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

Half a century ago it was quite common to see on a wall in numerous (then very numerous!) Winchester pubs, a little pamphlet containing a 'story' of sorts. Clearing some old files recently I came across a yellowing copy, which is given, verbatim, below.

The original sheet was all in the same font and had no identifying indicators other than the capital letters, the italicised highlights have been added to assist the twenty-first century reader.

A Ramble through the Ancient City.

Strolling into Winchester one morning with my friend Hyde, we saw a Rowbuck watching an Old Red Deer, and when we got to the Railway we heard the report of a rifle fired by a Volunteer, which startled a Fox and Hounds and by the light of the Morning Star we saw the Fox run past the Monument and was killed trying to get under the Westgate. I then discovered by the light of the Star that my friend was wearing a Plume of Feathers plucked from the wings of the Black Swan which was shot by a Sportsman under the Willow Tree, which greatly annoyed the Queen, it being a Royal bird, so we gave it to the Duke of Edinburgh who with Perseverance had obtained the services of the Black Boy who trained the Golden Lion to leap through the King's Arms and alight on the Duke's Head and ring a Bell and play with a Dog and Duck and set light to a Catherine Wheel. This was being performed in the New Town Hall, when who should we see but Victoria in the Gladstone Arms, wearing a Rose and Crown, yes, a Rose and Crown on the Queen's Head seated on a Crown and Cushion riding on Coach and Horses driven by a Green Man singing Rule Britannia, Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue, John Barleycorn, God bless the Prince of Wales, etc. (which disturbed the Poulterer's Rest who was asleep at the Fountain Head and the Duke of Wellington, the Hero, riding behind on a Running Horse wearing the Rose and Shamrock followed by George Shades who had painted the India Arms on the Royal Standard and was going to fix it on the Hampshire House with a Good Intent. We then strolled past the Post Office and fell in the City Wine Vaults where we found several taps so we tried the two Brewery Taps besides the Queen's Brewery Tap, a Water Lane Tap, a Railway Tap, a Lawn Tap, a Black Swan Tap and then we spotted a Royal Tap fixed into Three Tuns of good stuff, made from the grapes of the Old Vine which had got into the King's Head and caused him to fall over the Beehive on the Lawn and had to be taken to the Guildhall where they applied a Battery when in walked Robin Hood with a Bird-in-Hand who said he had just seen St. James and St. John in company had arrived – some very fine men – and had a little argument about who had the largest muscle. So we decided to measure the Butcher's Arms, the Baker's Arms, the Mason's Arms, the Carpenter's Arms, the Skinner's Arms, the Coachmaker's Arms, the two Gardener's Arms, the Miller's Arms, the Mildmay Arms, the Wykeham Arms, the Fulflood Arms and all the Foresters' Arms, in fact we measured the whole of the City Arms and County Arms, even the County of Suffolk Arms, but we found the most muscle in the Blacksmith's Arms who shod three White Horses which we had purchased at a Market in Sussex. These we hooked to the Plough which was well handled by the Jolly Farmer who tilled the ground round the Royal Oak where he turned up an Old Bell and Crown but we made an Exchange for a New Bell and Crown which we placed on the Nag's Head. We next purchased a Waggon and Horses and loaded up the Wheat Sheaves, which was driven by Albert with a 3d Whip over the Bridge to the Old Market where we fell in with Napoleon who had been round the globe in a Ship and had lost his Crown and Anchor and brought home an Eagle and a Dolphin and we laughed at him when he said he had his Heart in Hand; of course he meant the White Hart. He had brought home a White Swan but he had left his boy George taking a little Railway Refreshment at the Great Western, who if he ever entered an Albion or a City Restaurant or any Wine Stores or a Railway Tavern or a New Inn was always noted to be the First Inn and Last Out. The night was now drawing on, and we thought we would like to stay in a Winton Ale House, so we settled down for the night in the Olde House at Home.
Omega. God Save the King.

The best guess for the original date is circa 1930 and the total number of pubs is a prodigious 124 or more – some of the plurals are not quite specific and I may have missed some references in the original document, perhaps the Grapes or the Globe should have been capitalised?

I first moved to Winchester in 1960 and can remember twenty or more pubs in the list that have vanished since but that still leaves more than sixty that are pretty baffling! More curiously there seem to be some obvious omissions that were certainly pubs in the inter-war era and seem to have old names – the Eclipse, Rising Sun, Cricketers (now some 'beer café' nonsense), the lamented Staple Gardens and the frequently dubious Talbot Arms are just a few examples. And the sturdy, Victorian built King Alfred must also have been a pub with that name.

There may be an erudite reader, perhaps a bit long in the tooth now, who can identify them all although I for one would be very surprised – but most interested to hear. It would also be good to know if any similar 'stories' exist for other local towns or cities. Romsey would be a good candidate, having lost well over half the pubs it had in its Victorian days as a sheep and cattle dealing centre. The local Archaeological Society, LTVAS, produced a book some years ago, detailing the lost pubs: So drunk he must have been to Romsey. Southampton is perhaps too big to tackle with a 'story' although of course all the lost pubs of the city are splendidly covered in the late Tony Gallaher's excellent book Southampton's Inns and Taverns. We need a similar book for Winchester.

CASH DEALS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

As you will have read in this and previous editions of Hop Press, there are a lot of local pubs that have been sold to developers so that housing can be built on their sites. Many of the most hotly disputed cases in recent months have been within the Borough of Eastleigh. All these changes of use of course have had to be approved by councillors as part of the planning process. The powers of councillors in such cases are more limited than is generally appreciated. Decisions have to be made in accordance with planning guidance, both national guidance and each authority's local plan.

There is a greater chance of a pub staying open if it is the last pub in a village, especially if the local plan mentions that there should be a presumption against closure in such circumstances. Another important factor in pub closures is whether a pub is a viable business. CAMRA has produced guidelines that could be used to assess a pub's viability but unfortunately these have not been taken up nationally.

It is unfortunately all too easy for a licensee to run a pub in such a way that it loses business. One particularly effective method is to have inconsistent opening hours. Once a few people have turned up at a pub to find it closed when it is supposed to be open, word soon gets round and fewer people bother to visit. This is especially effective with rural pubs.

Readers will all be able to think of examples of pubs that were at one time thriving establishments but are now sadly run down. One cause is where a successful licensee leaves and the new incumbent fails to recognise what it was that made the pub so successful. This often happens when pub companies take over booming free houses and then wonder why trade decreases when the new licensee can only offer beers from a restricted range.

There are, happily, many examples of the reverse happening. A good example are the pubs in the Hop Back estate. Most of these were run down establishments when they were taken over but have subsequently boomed following the introduction of good beers and management, which have attracted a new and increased clientele.

The main reason for most recent closures is the booming property market. While a pub may make a perfectly adequate return on investment in the long term, there are many pub owners that want to release the capital for short term gains or needs. A recent article in the Echo proclaimed, in relation to Eldridge Pope: "Pubs to be sold to clear firm's debt."

Another example was Hamble's Bugle, closed just to realise the housing value (probably over £7m) of its car park!

It is then worrying that in replying to a letter that had appeared in the Echo criticising Eastleigh council's actions regarding recent pub closures, Eastleigh North ward councillor Chris Thomas, stated naively, "Owners don't close a pub that is making money."


NO DEALS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

Readers will have got used (not least through reading Hop Press) to pubs being closed and, in our area at least, many new pubs being opened. There is one category of pub however that rarely gets a mention, those for which plans are announced but which never come to fruition – pubs of the imagination perhaps.

Let us start by looking at two failed plans which bring together two of our favourite bogeymen of recent times, Eastleigh Borough Council and Eldridge Pope. In late 1986 the (then) Dorset brewers submitted plans to convert Hound Farmhouse, in Hound Road, Netley into a pub. They were rebuffed, among the reasons the council gave for refusing planning permission were:

  • It was against the spirit of the local plan, in what is definitely a country area.
  • Inadequate car parking facilities and potentially dangerous access onto a main road.
  • There were more than enough pubs in the area already.

In 1990 the farmhouse was converted into eleven apartments. The developers had made improvements to access site lines and presumably the area was no longer in the countryside. Following the closing of so many pubs in the southern parishes I wonder if we will ever see the third reason above used again?

The other failure by Eldridge Pope to build a new pub occurred at the opposite end of the borough, in Allbrook. The Victoria Inn, a handy stopping point on the Itchen Navigation path, is no longer open and is soon to be demolished to make way for housing and offices. This was part of the plan that Eldridge Pope proposed in 1989. Unfortunately, the second part of the plan, to convert the Elizabethan Allbrook Farmhouse, which stands on the other side of the road, into a pub/restaurant never came to fruition. Permission was granted for the new pub which, if the drawings were anything to go by, would have been a very attractive venue. Unfortunately the plans were conceived just before Eldridge Pope began the downward financial spiral from which they never recovered.

The Victoria continued to trade for many years, while occasional work was carried out at the empty farmhouse to minimise the deterioration of the Grade II listed building. Permission for the conversion to a pub was renewed by Eldridge Pope in 1995 but in 1999 it was sold to property developers. In 2001 new plans were announced to build almost 100 homes, offices and a shop on the site of the Victoria and on the land surrounding the farmhouse. Initial plans were rejected but modified plan for the Victoria site was finally agreed late last year. In 2001 Eastleigh Council produced a proposal to restore the farmhouse and open it as a community museum. It would have been in part a memorial to Mary Beale, who is thought to have been England's first female professional artist and who lived at the farmhouse for five years after moving from London in 1665 to escape the plague.

Moving now to Southampton. There have been a number a plans for pubs in the city that have never come to fruition.

In 1994 city council officials were quoted as saying that the Old Bond Store, in Back of the Walls in the Town Quay area, was being looked at as a potential pub. This, and various subsequent plans for the building, never saw the light of day. Nearby, in the High Street at the corner with Briton Street, a plan was announced in 1997 for a development that would include pubs, cafes and wine bars. There are no signs of this happening as yet.

To the north of the Bargate, in 2000 city planners rejected plans for a four storey pub in the premises that were occupied by Moss Bros and Toni & Guy. Later in the year an application to convert premises in the same area, formerly occupied by Jaeger, into a pub was successful on appeal. There have been no signs of any new pub opening in the years since that decision however.

Just across the road, in 2000 our friends Eldridge Pope were unsuccessful in a bid to convert the former Lloyds Bank, which is currently occupied by the shop "Just Add Water", into a pub. Two years later however they were successful with a similar application in a nearby building which is now the Toad @ the Park.

Moving out from the centre of the city, in 2002 the SFI group (better known originally as Surrey Free Inns), applied for a licence to open one of their Litten Tree chain in three units of the Portswood Shopping Centre, close to the junction with Brookvale Road. SFI however have run into severe financial problems, which have led to the disposal, amongst others, of the leases of the Bugle at Hamble and the Sir Walter Tyrrell at Canterton in the New Forest. So it is no great surprise that the new pub has not appeared. Last year the shopping centre was sold to new owners.

For around twenty years the shell of the former Eastleigh Parish Church was a sad sight following a fire. It is finally being put to a new use with a number of flats being built within the frame of the old walls. In 1997, however, it was reported that a number of parties had approached the selling agents with the idea of converting the building into a pub/restaurant, perhaps after noticing the opening of a similar venture in Southampton's Commercial Road.

The biggest generator of new pubs in recent years has been the Wetherspoon pub chain. The Standing Order in Southampton was the first of their new breed of city centre pubs in our area and has been followed by the Giddy Bridge and Bright Water in the city and the Old Gaol House in Winchester. Surprisingly though, Wetherspoons did not progress with one of their attempts to open a fourth pub in Southampton. In 1999 they made an application for a pub at 48/49 Oxford Street through to include 23/24 Queen's Terrace. The pub never came to fruition and the premises are now occupied by Poppadom Express.



Pat O'Neill

The third Wednesday in February is always specially marked on the calendars of members of the Southern Hampshire Branch of CAMRA. It is the day when the local entries for the following year's Good Beer Guide are substantially chosen.

This 830 page book, vital to any real ale lover visiting unknown parts of the country, lists about 4500 of the pubs with the best beer – about 6% of the country's total. The Guide is arranged in county sections and there is a complex statistical formula that determines how many entries each area shall have – a formula that takes into account the county's area, population, total number of pubs and how many tourists it gets each year. Each county usually has several branches (Hampshire, a fairly big county, has four) and these statistical allocations are divided down to give a target figure for each branch.

In recent years our branch target has been in the region of forty.

Throughout the year, at every branch meeting, members make reports on good (and, perhaps more importantly, bad or indifferent) beers encountered in pubs around the branch's area. A cumulative list of all these reports is kept and is combined with a list of all the pubs that anyone has recommended during the twelve months for consideration as being of possible Good Beer Guide quality.

At the short-list selection meeting, which is one of our few closed meetings for members only, all the pubs on the lists are up for discussion and each one is voted on.

Although, of course, the beer quality and consistency are the paramount considerations, many other factors also come into the discussions:

  • the ambience and welcome.
  • geographical spread (an all urban or all rural selection would not be sensible or acceptable).
  • 'Ancillary' activities – food, games, family rooms etc.

The licensee's time in the pub is vitally important. In recent years there has been an ever increasing 'churn' in pub ownership and management and we consider that a licensee needs to be in post for six months or so to enable beer consistency to be judged. This is a flexible guideline, if someone comes from an already known good beer pub it is often relaxed

The democratic framework of the meeting seems to work well and we usually manage to arrive, amicably, at a short-list that satisfies our allocation target before the fateful call of 'time!' can terminate proceedings. All that remains is an intensive week of form-filling, surveys before the entry data is sent up to the editor for his March deadline – for a book that is not published until October…


PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

The renaming of a city centre pub following a refurbishment and change of image has in recent years been a signal of impending doom for lovers of good beer. One recent such event in the Bedford Place area of Southampton is though a cause for celebration. The pub that was most recently know as the Ostrich has changed it name again, back to its original name of the Red Lion. Bert Johnson took over the pub just over a year ago and has overseen a £200,000 refurbishment which has given the venue a more traditional pub feel, but without the all too common fake olde worldeness. The beers on offer when we visited were Abbot and London Pride.

Even better news courtesy of Mr Johnson and Southern Counties Taverns comes from the unlikely setting of Totton. As part of a £300,000 conversion real ale has returned to the Cross Keys. The beers on offer at the long neglected pub when we visited were Ringwood Best and Gales HSB. Comfortable furnishings have been installed at the front of the pub while the pool table and big screens remain at the rear. Unfortunately there has also been a name change here, though it could being trying to emphasise a more pleasant atmosphere, as the Cross has been dropped.

Yet more new handpumps have appeared further west in the Forest. At long last the Old Barn in Gore Road, New Milton has opened, following a wait of more than five years. Although the conversion has retained the rustic exterior of the original building, it has a bright and modern feel inside. There is a relatively small bar area but stairs lead to the upper level, meaning there is plenty of room for customers. The pub, which offers accommodation, had Courage Best and Directors and Ringwood Best and Fortyniner available when we visited.

An long established New Forest hostelry, but one that is enjoying a new lease of life, is the Sir Walter Tyrrell at Canterton. We mentioned in the last Pub News that it had been purchased by a local resident following a failed attempted to use the site for housing. The new owners were subsequently revealed to be rest home proprietor John Hughes and his wife Sue. They are determined to preserve the character of the pub for which they paid a reported £1.5m. Ironically the planning policy which helped to prevent plans to build housing on the site have now scuppered the new owners' plans to extend the kitchen and toilet facilities and build a new function room. A recent application has been made for a late licence for the pub which is located close to the Rufus Stone.

Potential changes to another Forest pub with new owners are in the offing at Whitsbury. Ringwood Brewery have applied for various internal and external alterations and a single storey side extension to the Cartwheel, which is a listed building. Plans that have been given the go ahead are for the use of an annexe as seven letting rooms at the High Corner Inn, Linwood and for a single storey rear extension at the Royal Oak, Hilltop, near Beaulieu. One set of plans which are still under discussion are those for the conversion of the Morant Arms at Brockenhurst into housing. The later plans have now gone to appeal but whatever the outcome, there is little hope of the former Eldridge Pope house serving another pint. Permission has been granted for building work at another Eldridge Pope pub in the Forest area. A block of eight flats is to be built at the rear of the Sportsman's Arms at Pennington.

There was a recent twist to the normal bad news that results when pubs and new housing are mentioned together. Auctioneers Sullivan Mitchell used a room at the Red Lion, Milford-on-Sea to dispose of two building plots in the village.

Before we leave the Forest, there is yet more good news on the real ale front, this time from the far south-west. The Cat and Fiddle at Hinton Admiral is now serving Draught Bass, after a long period without real ale, and advertised the reintroduction in local newspapers.

The White Swan in Hyde Street was originally part of the estate of the Winchester Brewery which was sited next door. In more recent times of course the buildings were used as a depot by Marstons. There was a link between the two premises that enabled brewery officials easy access to the pub. Unfortunately this link was broken when the brewery site was developed for housing, though the old counting house of the brewery, a listed building, still stands. Now the White Swan looks as if it will be losing links on the other side as an application has been submitted, "to enable the partitioning of the White Swan public house from 86 Hyde Street".

A licensee who served many pints of Marston's Pedigree and Bitter can be found a little further along Hyde Street. Val Dove recently celebrated 15 years at Hyde Tavern. There have been strange goings on at another former Martson's pub in the city. The Fulflood, which still has external signs for the Winchester Brewery, has been hosting a new group that is a little different from the usual darts or football teams – a knitting group. The Fulflood Castaways, which was founded by Penelope Wakeham, started meeting in October.

Staying in the ancient capital, the former Muswells in Jewry Street has undergone a £300,000 refit and is now called Savannah. A changing range of real ales are apparently available. Another city pub offering a good range of real ales is the Albion, close to the railway station, which has reopened following a period of closure. It has been decorated inside and out and has on offer Young's Bitter, London Pride, Taylor's Landlord and Ringwood Bitter. We mentioned in the last Pub News that the Cricketers is now under the banner of the Blonde Beer Cafe. A recent food review in the Daily Echo claimed that the best bit about the pub was that well known Belgian delicacy – burgers. The Bridge Street bar has recently applied for a late licence.

Early last year Fullers took over the Old Monk and reopened it as the Bishop on the Bridge – a Gastro pub. This was part of a chain of gastro pubs and was the first we had heard of this new breed in southern Hampshire. We saw adverts for staff at around that time suggesting that another Gastro pub was to open in Romsey. The pub was not however a Fuller's house but was just a change of emphasis for the Three Tuns. It will be interesting to see if any more pubs in our area start to advertise themselves in this way. It is heartening that the two examples above have both kept a good range of real ales for the customers to enjoy.

A little to the north-east of the city, in Easton, there are new proprietors at the Cricketers. Village residents and regular customers Paul Moffat, Donna Drysdale and Garfield Backshell, who are known as the Village Partnership, have taken over the pub from previous landlord Geoff Green, who has moved to the Midlands.

Moving to Southampton, there are three examples of names which have been altered in an attempt to attract a difference type of clientele. The Parkside in the city centre has changed its name to Strikers and claims to be Southampton's No. 1 Sports Bar. Handpumps sporting Greene King labels were still on offer when we looked in but it will be interesting to see how long they stay in operation as the pub is advertising that it serves the, "coldest beer in town." This is part of a growing marketing trend in which coldness rather than taste is used to attract drinkers. A few years ago it was "smoothness" that was the characteristic used to tempt customers. The fast declining sales of smooth beers suggests however that drinkers are no longer fooled by that angle. Another name change suggests that the Rising Sun in Shirley may also be offering cold beer when it reopens after undergoing extensive alterations. The new name is the Brass Monkey.

Fruit is apparently "Southampton's newest style bar". Further investigations found it to be part of the Dolphin Hotel in the High Street. The landmark hotel was purchased last year by Bob Musker, who has worked in the local hotel trade for many years. The new bar is one of a number of new ideas being tried by Mr Musker as he aims to increase the profile of the Dolphin. While appreciating that he has some interesting ideas to boost trade, if you rely too heavily on "style" there is a danger that it can result in almost continuous, expensive refurbishment as you try to keep up with the latest fads.

There is one city centre pub that may have seen its last name change. We mentioned in the last edition that the former Smugglers in Bernard Street had become the Crusader. Now we read that an application has been submitted for, "the conversion of the building to form three dwelling units." (Since we first published this we have found that the planning application to which we referred only affects the accommodation above the pub and the Crusader will remain open as a pub. We apologise for the error and wish the Crusader a long and successful future.)

Customers who thought they had won their battle to keep their pub open face a new fight. Last year Southampton planners rejected plans by developers David Wilson Homes to build 32 homes on the site of the Elephant and Castle in Bursledon Road. Drinkers in this under-pubbed area now face a renewed assault on two fronts. The developers have resubmitted their original application and have also appealed to the Secretary of State against the first refusal. We wish the customers well in their campaign against closure.

In Winchester there was shock news at the end of February when the managers at Weeke's Chimneys (originally the Weeke Hotel and then for a short time the oddly named Blighty's) announced that it would be closing within a few days – February 26th. Allegedly the pub, owned by the Laurel Pub Company after Whitbread's retreat from the field, has been sold suddenly to anonymous 'developers' with a view to its demolition for housing. No planning applications have yet been made and enquiries are also yet to reveal a name for the purchaser. The regulars are attempting a petition but the suddenness of the news is (presumably intentionally) inhibiting their efforts.

The Lamp and Mantle at West End was the same approach. Almost two years after closure, planning permission has at last been granted for 34 flats. Clearance has begun and the building works started. Clearly the developers realised that it is much more difficult for those against such plans to organise protests after a pub is closed and the customers dispersed. If this is to be the new style of money grubbing greed of pub owners then planners must wake up and start taking some proper firm action for the public good. Chimneys has a huge catchment area of householders who have no other pub within reasonable walking distance; its closure is a major loss of civic amenity.

In the same depressing vein, but only so far a rumour, there is speculation that the Bassett, in Southampton's Burgess Road, may be about to suffer a similar fate, becoming another dreary apartment block. Does anyone know for sure?

What we do know for sure though, is that another application has just been slapped in for the Anchor and Hope in Threefield Lane, Southampton, again to be made into flats. The planners must make a stand and plug the dyke before this flood becomes a deluge.

The subject of pubs being closed for housing naturally leads us to Eastleigh. Before the Bugle in Hamble closed in October the usual advert for meals at the pub had the words "farewell offer" added. While the building work continues the bar area of the pub will be used as a sales office. As we suspected, it is likely to have served its last pint. Tony Burton, a director of developers Linden Breamore, was reported to have said that when the bar area reopens, "It will certainly not be a pub…"

A pub even nearer to the waterfront, and even better known than the Bugle, is currently closed. Work on the controversial changes to the Jolly Sailor at Bursledon began in October. We await the outcome with interest. As well as internal alterations, the works will also involve the installation of a new lift to transfer the beer casks from the road down to the pub. Unfortunately the existing lift was found to be unsafe three months before the pub was due to close. As a result the beer had to be delivered using a ferry to transfer the beer from the Swanwick side of the river.

Also due to start soon is the construction of flats on the site of the former Tabby Cat in Chandler's Ford. The pub, which was more recently called the Ashdown Arms, was closed in the autumn of 2002. It is good to report a really sensitive piece of pub development – the Black Boy in Wharf Hill, Winchester, has added a new bar area, crafted out of a previous kitchen/domestic area. The new room, which interconnects with the present bars, contains a splendid working Aga and the decor and ambience is of a farmhouse kitchen – very pleasant.

We are delighted to see that the Hop Back Brewery have added three more pubs to their estate, although unfortunately none are in our immediate area. The nearest is the Duck Inn at Laverstock on the eastern side of Salisbury. The second, in the centre of Devizes, is the Southgate Inn. Visitors to this early Victorian pub will see a familiar face, the licensee is Eddie Bonniffini who was previously presiding over the Wellington Arms in Freemantle. Hop Back's third new pub is the Glue Pot in Swindon. This pub, which features in the current Good Beer Guide, is in the centre of Swindon's historic 'Railway Village' and was at one time the Archers Brewery Tap.

Finally, it is also good to report that the hard-to-find Greene King XX Mild has reappeared at the Rack and Manger near Crawley – whether for winter only or all year round will depend on the drinkers' support it gets. The Richmond Inn, in Portswood is a pub where this very drinkable beer definitely does feature every day of the year.


SOTONFEST! Hop Press index

The Southampton Beer Festival, at the City's imposing Guildhall, is not far off.
(See also our Southampton Beer Festival 2004 information page.)
The Festival opens on the evening of Thursday, June 3rd. The session details:

  • Thursday, June 3rd., 6.30pm to 11.00pm
    Preview session, tickets £3
  • Friday, June 4th., 11.30am to 4.00pm
    Free entry session (£2 glass deposit)
  • Friday, June 4th., 6.30pm to 11.00pm
    Tickets £6, Smerin's Anti-social Club (Latin/funk/Ska!)
  • Saturday, June 5th., 11.30am to 4.00pm
    Tickets £5. Riverside Jazz Band 
  • Saturday, June 5th., 6.30pm to 11.00pm 
    Tickets £6, Silver Beattles

Tickets will be available by mid-April. We strongly advise buying tickets in advance, we cannot guarantee 'on the door' sales.

Ticket outlets should include:

  • The Guildhall Box Office (Library door)
    023 8083 3612
  • Southampton Tourist Information Centre,
    9 Civic Centre Rd., 023 8083 3333
  • Bitter Virtue Off-licence, Cambridge Rd.,
    Portswood 023 8055 4881
  • Stile, University Rd., 023 8058 1124
  • South Western Arms, Adelaide Rd., St Denys, 023 8032 4542
  • Stones (formerly Hogshead), High Street,
    Eastleigh, 023 8065 2554
  • Waterloo Arms, Waterloo Rd., Freemantle
    023 8022 0022

By post to:

  • Beer Festival Tickets, 11 Newlands Ave., Shirley, Southampton SO15 5EP
    (with SAE and cheque, payable to: Hampshire Beer Festival, Southampton)



New to the online edition of Hop Press the Competition Crossword. The online editor apologies for not doing a nice interactive form but it would take too much time. Instead it's a straight scan of the paper edition. The Competition Crossword will open as a graphic (79KB) in a new window for you to print out.

Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn.

Closing date 1st May 2004.

The results appear at the bottom of our October 2004 online Hop Press


Hop Press issue number 55 – March 2004

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
SO50 4HY
023 8064 2246

© CAMRA Ltd. 2004