THE Heroes pub is facing its biggest challenge to date.
Pub giant JD Wetherspoon is moving to a property next to the historic watering hole – and landlord Tony Coles knows the tavern will need all its character and charm to survive.
Thankfully, charisma is not in short supply at the pub, which is situated in the heart of Waterlooville town centre.
Whether it’s the pub’s legendary gravy – the recipe of which is a close-guarded secret – or its warm and chatty bar staff, this is one pub that is far from just a place to drink alcohol.
By day it’s a place to enjoy a pint of real ale and have a natter with the locals.
By night the pub, which is beleived to be named after weary soldiers arriving back after fighting in the Battle of Waterloo, is filled with the sound of music and a party atmosphere. It could be a local band strumming away on their guitars or a mum from Waterlooville strutting her stuff on the karaoke night.
Mr Coles, 68, said: ‘We are an entertainment venue. We do bands every Friday and Saturday.
‘There are not many venues left in this area of Hampshire that do that.’
Local performers include The Superheroes, Fay Wray, The Mafia, Trevor John Band and the South Coast Shadows Club.
There is also an open mic night every Thursday, karaoke on a Tuesday and a quiz, interspersed with karaoke during the breaks, on a Sunday.
Food is only served at lunchtimes, but is all home-cooked traditional English fare such as cottage pie, Sunday roast and the ever-popular ham, egg and chips.
Pub regular Martin Jarman, an engineer from Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s absolutely fantastic here. It’s friendly, welcoming and there’s no trouble.
‘I come to the band nights and the atmosphere is electric.’
Lisa Stowers, 39, who has worked in the kitchen and bar for the last four years, said: ‘We are like a big family here.
‘When we are not working here, this is where we come.’
John Rimmer, 50, from Denmead, who has been coming to the pub for seven years, said: ‘I like the atmosphere here. The bar staff are really good, it’s well run and the beer is always good.’
Fullers, the brewery which owns the pub, is planning a complete refit of the interior in the next few months, including new toilets, carpets and curtains.
Mr Coles also hopes to reinstall the darts board by removing one of the pool tables and rejuvenate the game in the Waterlooville area.
He said: ‘It’s a great pub game.
‘It’s died a bit of a death in this area, but I am going to promote it more.’