REGULARS at a popular local pub are drinking to the future – as plans are put in place to get it open for business again.
As previously reported, the Fort Cumberland Arms in Eastney has been shut since Christmas Day due to flooding.
Drains in the road outside couldn’t cope with the deluge, and water soon filled the pub’s cellar and bubbled up to ground level.
Now, however, the pub’s electrics are almost back up an running, and the cellar is drying out.
Landlords Tina and Dave Dolling say they hope it will be open again in a week or so.
‘We’ll be having a big party,’ said Tina.
‘We’ll be celebrating Christmas, new year, Hogmanay...everything.’
The pair haven’t had an income while the pub has been closed, but have been taken in by their loyal customers who have fed them and kept them warm during the six week hiatus.
‘We just want to say a big thank-you for everything everyone has done. Everyone has helped in their own way,’ Tina added.
Pub regular Tim House, 48, has been one of the pub’s customers urging Fort Cumberland Arms owner Chris Hunt to start the repairs.
He said: ‘It’s really important to keep this pub because it’s one of the last local pubs around here. The others have all gone.
‘My family have used this pub for 80 years.
‘We’ve fought to keep this pub open, and it’s just tragic what’s happened with the flooding.
‘Our next challenge is to keep pushing to have this pub as Portsmouth’s first community-owned pub.’
Eastney is the lowest part of Portsmouth, and for centuries has been prone to flooding.
In 2010 Southern Water announced it would be investing £10m in a new pumping station in Eastney to help get rid of the excess water in times of widespread flooding, as has happened in the region since just before Christmas.
Tim says the pumping station simply hasn’t been up to the job.
He added: ‘I have started the complaints procedure with Southern Water about this, so we’ll see what happens with it. Something needs to be done.’