Carol Godsmark reviews: The Miner’s Arms, Funtley, near Fareham

The Miner's Arms, Funtley.
The Miner's Arms, Funtley.
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Funtley – where’s Funtley you ask? Next to Fareham – has a mention in the Domesday Book, the Earl Godwin’s estate of six villagers and two slaves. Worth £2 in 1066.

Meaning ‘springs’ in Anglo-Saxon because of its proximity to the River Meon, its fortunes changed in the 19th century when the construction of the railway opened up clay deposits east of the river, the Miner’s Arms – for this is where we are this week – is named after Welsh miners who constructed the Fareham railway tunnel. The brickworks have gone, the clay quarry is now a fishing lake.

The pub, opened by George Feast, the railway contractor, was run by three or more generations of Feasts in charge of the village hub and bottle shop, and is now a Fuller’s.

It retains a decidedly old-fashioned feel, no, not as far back as 1066, but transported to the 1970s and ’80s, those craving simplicity and lack of hard sell welcoming its ethos.

There’s a patterned carpet to take in your stride, patterned red settles, some green padded chairs, flowers, a whirring ceiling fan, a few pictures of yesteryear in the more dining area of the pub, the game machines housed in the left hand bar. Those who dislike music in pubs will enjoy the hum of voices only. A few benches outside catch the sun.

The equally no-frills traditional menu matches the looks of its era. There’s nothing to scratch your head over with the likes of lasagne; sausage or ham with egg and chips; chilli con carne; cod and chips; rump, gammon or burger from the grill joining basket meals; sandwiches; salads and jackets.

A few specials are also offered, helpfully pointed out by the solo delightful, friendly staff member who handles the pub with ease and efficiency.

Prices? From £3.50 to just short of £10 for the rump, most mains about £7.95.

The food, except for salads, is not quite hot-summer’s-day-friendly. I suspect the menu changes little – their bestseller a steak and ale pie with home-made shortcrust pastry, my choice.

Expect a large plateful, fine for miners or agricultural workers, less so for the sedentary lot that we are. The pie, a vast slab, came with three types of veg: carrots, broccoli and shredded cabbage. They reminded me of a past era, no seasoning or butter used. But the tasty mash showed that the kitchen is capable of a sprinkle of salt, the beef and ale filling equally well-seasoned, the meat excellent and tasty. Less so the pastry, made with inferior ingredients and hefty as the Domesday Book itself. It was mostly left but not its moreish contents. Gravy? Shiny.

Desserts are equally wintry, the small list including rib-sticking spotted dick, apple pie, Belgian waffles, all £4.50.

Beers and ales are what you’d expect in a Fuller’s pub, their brewery creating HSB, London Pride and Seafarers. Landlady Joanne King is a master (mistress?) cellarman/woman and it shows. Those beers and ales are in tip top condition with three ales on tap.

The Miners, a welcoming, relaxing, non-frenetic neighbourhood pub, is a boon to the village and those preferring heavier food with no modern twist, their home from home.

My bill came to £10.35 including a half of London Pride.

ESSENTIALS

The Miner’s Arms, 112 Funtley Road, Funtley, Fareham PO17 5EF 01329 232065.

Open 11.30 - 11 pm. (10.30 Sun).

Food: ***

Service: ****

Atmosphere: ****

Disabled access: OK

How to get there: Funtley, five minutes’ drive from Fareham, is just off the M27, and easily accessed from junctions 9 or 10. Set your sat nav for PO17 5EF - car park.