Want pubs to survive? Then you have to use them

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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Is there anything more quintessentially British than a good old pub? We may have become more cosmopolitan over time, absorbing the influences of other cultures. But the atmosphere and conviviality of a local is still something special.

The pub, so often an important community hub, is a proud part of our heritage. But the fear is that its unique charms are slowly being consigned to the past as more and more hostelries are forced to call time.

Some stand empty and boarded up, sad signs of a struggling economy. Others are bulldozed to make way for housing, sweeping away centuries of memories.

The list of pubs that have shut down in the Portsmouth area keeps on growing and that has to be of great concern to anybody who holds dear the institution of the great British boozer.

Many landlords are finding it hard going attracting enough customers as people stay in to save money or decide to take advantage of cheap drink prices at the supermarkets.

In an attempt to survive, some take the decision to turn their establishments into gastro pubs, where food is the focus rather than a pint and a chat.

But amid the gloom, there are bright shafts of optimism that if you give people what they want, they will reward you with their custom.

Each week we feature such a place as part of our Love Your Local campaign.

So it’s heartening to report today how a number of pubs in our patch have made it into the prestigious Campaign for Real Ale’s (Camra) Good Beer Guide 2013.

The 40th edition includes the Eastfield Hotel in Prince Albert Road, Southsea and landlord Ian ‘Mocker’ Ogilvie sums it up when he says: ‘We work hard and I didn’t think there’s anything at the end of the tunnel these days. It’s little things like this that make it all worthwhile.’

We congratulate those pubs that have made it into the guide and indeed all those who are trying their best to maintain the tradition of the British pub.

For the rest of us, the message is simple.

Use it or you risk losing it.