ONE of three pubs in a Hampshire village has called last orders for the final time.
The Hunters Inn in Cott Street, Swanmore, closed its doors for good last night, after hundreds of years as a mainstay for Hampshire visitors.
However, punters have been told by the managers that Heartstone Inns, which owns the venue, has called time on the pub due to a lack of trade.
The company purchased the Hunters Inn in March last year, with new managers Gavin and Georgia Hawkins taking charge around six months ago.
Well known for its parties in the 1960s and 70s, the pub would have sailors visit en masse, travelling by coach to go and have their fun.
In fact, the Hunters Inn is an impressive 300 years old, in a past life being used as a coaching inn for long-distance travellers.
Boasting a garden, a children’s playground and a large car park, the venue also played host to meetings for car groups, such as the South Coast Muzzers – part of the Mustang Owners Club of Great Britain.
Jean Cole, who organises the car meet, said: ‘I was told at our monthly meet last Sunday that the company who own it, Heartstone Inns, has pulled the plug, so to speak.
‘They say this is because they have not been able to generate enough trade after the pub had been run down customer-wise previously.
‘The managers, Gavin and Georgia Hawkins, are going to go and run a pub near Bath.’
Cllr Jon Woodman, chairman of Swanmore Parish Council said: ‘We are very sorry to see the pub close as it has been an important part of Swanmore village life for 300 years.’
The councillor added that any future plans for the site are down to Heartstone Inns and South Downs National Park, which is the planning authority.
James Birch from Heartstone Inns said: ‘Unfortunately the Hunters Inn has proved uneconomic to operate and therefore, regrettably, the decision has been taken to close the business whilst we review our options.
‘We are most grateful for the support we received from our staff and suppliers over the past year. Redundancy payments will be made to staff and alternative positions elsewhere in the group have been offered.’
Heartstone Inns runs a number of pubs across the country, including the Bun Penny in Lee-on-the-Solent.
The company took over the Hunters last year from landlord Tony Picariello.
The site was also used by horse groups, and was a designated park and stride location for Swanmore Primary School.
Following the building’s closure, two pubs remain in Swanmore – The Rising Sun just down the road and The Brickmakers in Church Road.