Love Your Local: The Stags Head, Westbourne

GOOD HUMOUR Regulars from left, Julian Sluggett, Ron Hall, Gerry Evans, Ron Hodgson and Colin Emmett at The Stag's Head in Westbourne. Picture: Allan Hutchings '(132363-333)
GOOD HUMOUR Regulars from left, Julian Sluggett, Ron Hall, Gerry Evans, Ron Hodgson and Colin Emmett at The Stag's Head in Westbourne. Picture: Allan Hutchings '(132363-333)
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It’s a pub with a big heart and a passion for great beer.

The Stags Head, in The Square, Westbourne, held a fun-filled beer festival for customers at the weekend.

It went down a treat because 20 real ales were on offer.

Lamb, beef and pork were cooked on a spit roast and carved up and served on flat Yorkshire puddings.

A variety of curries were dished up and all the grub was washed down with some real cider too.

It was the pub’s 10th beer festival.

Visitors can enjoy themselves all over again when the pub holds a cider festival selling 20 different drinks on Friday, September 13.

There will also be a range of tasty sausages on offer from M.R Starr Butchers, in High Street, Emsworth.

It’s being held as part of WemsFest Cultural Festival, a two-week event full of activities happening from September 13 to 29.

Landlord Fred Gordon, 46, who runs the place with his wife Debbie, 52, said he enjoys treating his customers and making sure they’re looked after.

‘Our biggest charity is keeping the pubs open,’ he said.

‘The beer festival was a huge success, especially given the current economic trend.

‘We had some really nice clientele in and a lot of new first-time customers from the new estate at the end of New Brighton Road, and others from further afield.

If Fred knows the local taxi firms are busy then he runs people home after they’ve had a few drinks.

He takes their car keys away at the beginning of the night just to be sure they don’t do anything stupid.

‘We look out for people,’ Fred said.

‘There is an old lady called Sheila comes in and she’s 70 years old. We make her feel welcome.

‘If she didn’t come in then she would just be sat at home.

‘We keep an eye on people’s welfare.

‘We sometimes run people home from the pub if we know they’ve had too much to drink.

‘The locals here are a nice bunch of people.

‘We also get young people in and we befriend them.

‘If you make them feel welcome then they will respect you and the pub.

‘If you alienate people, that’s when there’s trouble.’

Customers are taken to Fontwell Park Racecourse each year and the pub always makes sure it marks Burns Night.

Brewery trips to Irving and Company Brewers, in Walton Road, Drayton, Portsmouth, are also arranged.


LIFE is a family affair at The Stags Head.

Fred Gordon and his wife Debbie are given a helping hand from their daughters Sarah, 29, Kirsty, 21 and Emma, 27.

Fred’s niece Jessica, 17, and Debbie’s niece Nikki, 43, also do whatever they can.

The family had never run a pub before but decided to give it a go after it became available five years ago.

After managing it for a while, Fred and Debbie decided to take on the lease.

They’ve got two dogs, Maggie, a 10-year-old Old English sheepdog, and Daisy, a 12-year-old West Highland white terrier, who both like to roam about the pub and mingle with the locals.

Talking about what it’s like working with his family, Fred said: ‘You have your trials and tribulations and life at the bar is like a soap opera sometimes, but it’s great fun.’

Fred juggles life as a pub landlord with a full-time job for Network Rail maintaining signalling equipment across the Portsmouth line.

His brother Andy, 52, also works for the company.

Fred said working in the pub industry was rewarding but difficult so people shouldn’t be under the impression it’s a walk in the park.

‘It’s amazingly different to what people think it’s like,’ he said.

‘I try and tell people this who come to me and say they want to get into the pub industry.

‘You just can’t get up in the morning and think, this will be easy.’

Fred and Debbie plan to stay at the pub for the next four to five years and then have their hearts set on retiring to Scotland.