Love Your Local: The Wheelwright’s Arms

(l-r) Manager Sean Clapson, Claudia Brown from front of house, assistant manager Christian Egerton-Kemp and Fionuala Grant from front of house at The Wheelwright's Arms
(l-r) Manager Sean Clapson, Claudia Brown from front of house, assistant manager Christian Egerton-Kemp and Fionuala Grant from front of house at The Wheelwright's Arms
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It was a community pub in need of a boost.

Now The Wheelwright’s Arms, in Emsworth Road, Havant, has been taken over and injected with new life by new owners.

The Upham Pub Group has forked out £500,000 on making the venue relevant and a top place to eat out.

It’s been refitted with a new bar and kitchen and a derelict shed outside has been turned into a private dining area.

The pub now has different snug areas, whereas before it had an open plan design.

The number of seats for families and friends has also increased from 50 to 110.

Manager Sean Clapson took over when Upham bought the boozer in February.

The pub company began making changes in April and reopened the doors on June 30.

Sean said the response to the new-look venue was overwhelming and takings were doing well.

‘It’s been completely overwhelming,’ he said.

‘Last Thursday we made dinners for 100 people.

‘We have had a massive amount of positive feedback.

‘Everyone absolutely loves it because it was such a beautiful building that wasn’t really offering anything before. Now we have taken the pub over and relaunched it as a business.

‘It’s part of the community and it’s a quality dining house. It’s got a traditional look, but a contemporary feel.

‘There’s lots of wood, metal and exposed brick work.

‘We’ve found a gap in the market. People in Havant were crying out for somewhere to eat. Everyone before had to travel out of the area, and now they have got somewhere to go on their doorstep.’

The pub does a range of traditional pub grub as well as more upmarket dishes.

Four real ales are also on offer.

Plans are being made to hold an official launch party at a later date and Sean is hoping to hold community events as the pub’s popularity grows.

Sean, 29, has a team of 20 staff behind him and said they are determined to make the business a huge success.

‘The team are really great and are keen and conscientious,’ he said.

‘They say they’ve got a great pub to work in and enjoy their work.

‘We’ve had a great start.

‘A lot of customers have promoted us so far through word of mouth and now we’re really keen to get our name out there.’

Chris Philips, chief executive officer at the Upham Pub Group, said: ‘We are thrilled with the renovation of The Wheelwright’s Arms and we are proud to breathe some new life and heart into the stunning Victorian building.’

Meet the landlord

MANAGER Sean Clapson said it was his ‘calling’ to be in the pub trade – and he enjoys every aspect of his job.

‘I’ve worked in pubs all my life,’ he said.

‘I’ve been in pubs full-time since I left college in Littlehampton.

‘It was a calling really – it’s something you either can do or can’t do.

‘I’ve never wanted to do anything else.’

Sean said he’s passionate about food, beer and wine, and if he’s not working, you’ll often find him relaxing and socialising in a pub or restaurant.

‘It’s a hobby as well as a job,’ he said.

‘I love the atmosphere.

‘No day is the same.

‘I have got this building which you can do so much with and I can have a lot of fun while working.

‘You take a great sense of pride and ownership in the business.’

Sean is originally from West Sussex but has spent the last eight years working in Hampshire.

‘Most of the pubs I have worked in have been Hampshire based,’ he said. ‘I love what the county has to offer.

‘You have so much here on your doorstep; fresh produce, farming, fishing and you have even got Hampshire sparking rose.’

Sean said he’s is looking forward to celebrating major upcoming events,’ he added.

‘There’s events we’ll do in the future and Christmas is around the corner. We’ve got a private room which we can use for meetings, parties and wakes.’