No pool, jukebox or frills – just good real ale and great friends

WELCOMING Winchester Arms
WELCOMING Winchester Arms

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HIDDEN away in the terraced backstreets of Portsmouth, The Winchester Arms is renowned for serving up cracking ales.

For six years on the trot, the pub in Winchester Road, Buckland, has held pride of place in the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) Good Beer Guide.

The accolade is down to landlord Paul Fewings, who has been at the pumps for the last eight years.

Paul says the secret to success is down to retaining the pub’s old character and giving locals what they want.

The 44-year-old said: ‘It’s a proper pub and many of my customers say that. It’s a little backstreet local which doesn’t mess about.

‘We haven’t got a pool table or a jukebox. It’s wooden floors, wooden tables and good ale and that’s what people love.

‘About 20 years ago the previous owners gave the place a makeover and gave it that old feel.

‘Before that it was very 1950s. There used to be a long bar and a separate restaurant area. It didn’t really fit in with the area.’

The pub, owned by Punch Taverns, formerly housed the Buckland Brewery, which supplied all of the pub’s ale.

In 2001, the Brewery was snapped up by The Oakleaf Brewing Company, and operations moved to Mumby Road, Gosport.

Hole Hearted, of The Oakleaf Brewing Company, Spitfire Ale, brewed by the Shepherd Neame Brewery, and a weekly guest ale are the choice of tipples for punters.

In this year’s CAMRA Good Beer Guide, the pub is described as ‘a friendly two-bar local with an open fire in the winter’.

It added: ‘The pub has a dartboard and runs its own teams. A beer festival takes place on the spring bank holiday each year, and on Sunday evening there is live music.’

Paul said: ‘I’m proud of what I’ve done here. It’s not just a job, being a landlord is a passion of mine.

‘It’s full on and you don’t have a lot of time for yourself, but it’s my life.

‘I would have loved to have got stuck in with making the beer when the brewery was here.

‘I’ve made beer from the tins you can get, but never the proper way.’

Regular Gareth Turner, 53, from Bedhampton Road, North End, said: ‘It’s a great community local. They’re few and far between these days. I feel safe drinking in the pub and I’ve made a lot of friends.’