Iconic pub building in Havant is saved after campaign

The White Hart
The White Hart
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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A PUB that has served ales for 125 years is set to close this week – just days after being listed by English Heritage as one of the great buildings of its era.

After a long battle by residents, The White Hart pub in East Street, Havant, has been Grade-II listed.

The White Hart pub in North Street, Havant in December 1988 PP615 ENGPPP00120130606105758

The White Hart pub in North Street, Havant in December 1988 PP615 ENGPPP00120130606105758

Described as ‘an exuberant example of a late-Victorian corner pub’ by English Heritage, the decision means it can never be demolished.

But the old-fashioned pub is set to close its doors on Sunday, paving the way for a bingo hall and adult gaming centre.

The owner, Simon Reeves, said no external changes will be made to the building and only minor changes inside.

Despite concerns by Havant Civic Society over the building’s future as a bingo hall, the listed status still represents a victory for residents.

Two years ago, more than 1,000 people signed a petition to save the building after Barratt Homes presented proposals to demolish the pub and redevelop East Street with a 73-home development.

Although the plans never materialised, local historians set about saving the building.

Ann Griffiths, from Langstone, said: ‘The application to English Heritage was well researched and it is very good news for Havant.’

John Pile, who led the application, said: ‘This came about because of the threat to the White Hart of demolition.’

The pub was built in 1889 and designed by Alfred Edwin Stallard, an architect responsible for several iconic buildings in Havant, including The Wheelwright Arms, Fairfield School, and the United Reformed Church. He was also joint architect for Havant War Memorial.

Anita Page, landlady of the pub, welcomed the listed status, but was sad about the closure.

She added: ‘So many pubs are closing in Havant.’

Ray Cobbett, from Emsworth, who opposed the bingo hall, said: ‘I’m afraid the bingo hall is going to arrive whether we like it or not. The only substantial good thing is they can’t knock down the building.’

Mr Reeves said the building could have stayed a pub if more people had used it.

He said the bar would remain, with gaming machines installed in the front area and a bingo hall replacing the music hall at the back. He added: ‘We were never going to change the exterior.’

The bingo hall is set to open later this year.