The Cross Keys, Paulsgrove

The Cross Keys, Paulsgrove.
The Cross Keys, Paulsgrove.
Major works on improving Junction 9 of the M27 are set to go ahead (picture by Allan Hutchings)

M27 junction set to be transformed after millions secured for scheme

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Over the years the death knell has sounded for scores of pubs in Paulsgrove.

But The Cross Keys has managed to stand the test of the time and remain a permanent fixture in the heart of the community.

Landlady Pia Ewens, who has been in charge of the pub, in Birdlip Road, for 11 years, says her success boils down to regulars who don’t cause any trouble.

‘They’re a fantastic bunch here – we’re like all one big family,’ she said.

‘Everyone looks out for each other.

‘None of the customers give me any hassle.

‘They don’t cause the police any stress and that’s why this place is still going strong.’

The Clacton Arms, which used to be in Clacton Road, Paulsgrove, was demolished after it was badly damaged by fire in 1991.

The Old House at Home, in Jubilee Avenue, served its last pint in 2000 and former pub The Beehive, in Ludlow Road, made way for housing in 2005.

Now The Cross Keys, which is separated into two bars, remains the only local left for Paulsgrove residents.

Mrs Ewens, 49, who runs the pub with her husband Stephen, said: ‘It’s sad to see that we’re the only one left. But we’ve just kept going and my approach is to take one day at a time.

‘The pub is clean, we serve good beer, put on decent music and the atmosphere is great.

‘You get whole families under one roof here.’

Lately the pub has been doing its bit for charitable causes.

Kids sweets have been sold in aid of children’s hospice Naomi House and money from the sale of daffodils have gone towards Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Though the pub doesn’t serve cask real ales and ciders, it’s looking to get some in stock as the summer months approach.

Brian Broad, 74, was the landlord of The Cross Keys between 1988 and 1995.

After that time he retired from the pub trade.

Despite giving up his position behind the bar, Mr Broad, of Birdlip Road, has remained an ever-present face inside the local.

‘I still drink here with everyone because it’s a great little local,’ he said.

‘I live right by it. I’ve been drinking here since the 70s.

‘Those were good times. On a Sunday you used to get 30 to 40 people waiting for the pub to open. The men in their 40s who drink in the pub now were only young when I was in charge.

‘We’ve all remained friends which is great. Pia has worked hard. She does the best she can given the current economic climate.’