Love Your Local: The Old Oyster House, Milton

The Old Oyster House landlord and landlady Cath and Paul Russell
The Old Oyster House landlord and landlady Cath and Paul Russell
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When the cold weather kicks in this winter, many of us will want to find somewhere warm to have a pint and chat with friends.

And what better place to choose than The Old Oyster House, a cosy pub near Milton Lake in Locksway Road, Milton.

The traditional boozer has an open fire and no fancy frills – just a darts board and pool table.

The pub, which dates from the 1880s, does many things to help out the community.

A fun day in August with kids games, a barbecue and disco helped to raise £3,000 for Group B Strep Support.

The charity supports families affected by group B strep, a condition which causes infection to develop in new-born babies.

Landlady Cath Russell wanted to support the cause because her close friends Natalie and Michael Frost lost their baby to the condition in July last year.

Cath, 41, who has been in charge of the pub with her husband Paul, 49, for five years, said: ‘The day was designed to raise awareness of the condition.

‘Natalie and Michael came along for the fun day and they really enjoyed themselves and said how overwhelming it was to see everyone supporting them.

‘We raised an incredible amount of money, and that’s something I’m proud of.’

The Old Oyster House also supports The Tom Prince Cancer Trust and The Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

And it raised £80 for Macmillan Cancer Support when it got involved in the charity’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday, September 28.

Cath said: ‘We feel it is important to be the hub of the community.

‘That’s what it’s all about – supporting each other, bringing everyone together and helping one another out.

‘You don’t have that so often now, especially in the bigger pubs.

‘We’re an old-fashioned, traditional pub – everyone know’s everyone.

‘It’s more like coming to work and seeing your friends all the time.

‘With the big log fire we’ve got it’s like a home from home.’

The pub, which was rebuilt in 1930 by local architect Arthur Edward Cogswell, is gearing up for halloween.

On October 27 there will be a disco and customers will be encouraged to turn up in fancy dress.

Alex Hood, who has been a regular customer at the pub for around four years, said: ‘If you pop in for a quiet drink and a chinwag you are made very welcome.’

Meet the landlord

THE Old Oyster House holds special meaning to its landlords Cathy and Paul Russell.

The couple met when Cath worked as a barmaid at the pub and Paul was a customer.

Cath, who grew up in Henderson Road, Eastney, said: ‘You could say it was love at first sight. We both loved the pub and thought it would be a fantastic idea to take over the lease.’

Cath first got a taste of life in the pub trade when she became a barmaid at The Thatched House, near The Old Oyster House in Locksway Road.

She then went on to help at the Dolphin Hotel, in High Street, Littlehampton, before becoming a carer and a full-time mum in her 20s.

Paul has lived in Milton for most of his life and was a lorry driver before becoming a pub landlord.

He became a regular customer at The Old Oyster House in the early 1980s.

He said: ‘I know a fair bit about the area, which helps in this job.

‘I knew a lot of the previous landlords and a lot of the people I met in here in the 1980s are still here now.

‘It’s the perfect place to come in the winter because you feel the wind in Locksway Road because it’s near the water.

‘I’m happy with the way the pub is going at the moment.

‘It’s ticking over nicely at the moment. We’ve got great customers and we’ve got a good selection of real ale for them.

‘We don’t have any drastic plans and we’re not going anywhere.’

Cath added: ‘The best decision I ever made was running this place.

‘I wouldn’t do anything else.’