TIME has been called at a Portchester pub which will close its doors for the last time tomorrow.
The Punch Taverns group, which owns the White Hart in White Hart Lane, has finally ordered the pub to close down.
As previously reported, locals had been waiting for the axe to fall, but didn’t know when it would happen.
Southern Co-operatives has already obtained licensing approval from Fareham Borough Council for the site and will convert it into a small food store, set to open in September.
Mel Port, 38, was only brought in as manager three weeks ago and said: ‘It’s the end of an era – my dad used to bring me here as a kid.
‘Lots of people had started coming back in the past few weeks and saying how much better it’s been. We’ve been doing discos, a meat raffle and a quiz. It’s a shame they didn’t come sooner.’
Regular Joe Brewer, from King John Avenue, Portchester, said: ‘It’s sad to see it go – it’s always been a locals’ pub. It’s always been my local and I know everyone here. I don’t know where else I’m going to go yet.’ And Phil Harrison, 39, of Kenwood Grove, Portchester, added: ‘They do a lot of charity work here, it’ll be a shame to lose all that.
‘It’s been a good crowd here. We’re running out of local pubs around here – the Linden Lea closed down last year and there’s only a couple of others left in Portchester.
‘I can’t believe they want to make it a Co-op. How many Co-ops do they need around here?’
In a statement, Punch Taverns said: ‘It is always our preference that our pubs continue to trade as pubs. However, we do review our estate regularly and may explore other options around the future of our sites, or where they might better fulfil their potential for the local community under different ownership.’
Steve Tremlett, head of retail business development at The Southern Co-operative, said: ‘As a locally-based business, trading from mostly neighbourhood locations, we fully appreciate there are concerns over the pub’s closure and we are pleased to be providing a facility for the community that will also create around 20 new jobs for local people.’
The pub will be holding a closing down disco tonight. Children are welcome until 9pm.