Boarded-up Titchfield pub set to reopen thanks to manager

GOOD NEWS Mark Brooks who is reopening The Wheatsheaf pub in Titchfield.  Picture: Steve Reid (120282-055)
GOOD NEWS Mark Brooks who is reopening The Wheatsheaf pub in Titchfield. Picture: Steve Reid (120282-055)

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WHEN the Wheatsheaf pub was boarded up and closed last week, customers in Titchfield were devastated.

But now the pub is set to reopen – thanks to former manager Mark Brooks.

The 51-year-old, who has worked in the pub trade for many years, is taking out a lease on the pub from owners County Caterers Ltd, who shut it last week.

When news broke the pub was to close, Mr Brooks decided he had to do something about it and instead of buying a luxury holiday villa in Spain, he put his life savings towards reopening the pub.

He said: ‘It’s a very important part of the community. In my opinion it’s the best pub in the village. A lot of people use it.

‘I wasn’t expecting it to happen – we had a good Christmas.

‘I have managed to re-employ most of the staff so I have got most of the well-known faces back.’

The Wheatsheaf is the only Titchfield pub to have appeared in this year’s Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) guide, which Mr Brooks said is all part of the appeal for regular customers.

‘People like the fact that you can buy real beer. One of our things is beer,’ he said.

‘No doubt it will be hard work.

‘In the past few years it’s got desperately difficult for a lot of people.

‘But because we are a free house we can get the good deals.

‘The people will be pleased. There’s room in the village for three pubs.

‘They all do different things. And that’s the way it should be.’

The pub will reopen on Monday at 5pm.

Despite this, officials from the Camra, which backs The News’s Love Your Local campaign, has warned that more pub closures could be on their way.

Figures released by Camra reveal five pubs in Portsmouth shut their doors last year.

Geoff Marsh, chairman of Camra’s Portsmouth and South East branch, said: ‘I’m concerned by the figures.

‘More needs to be done to protect pubs and prevent supermarkets selling cheap beer.’