Relief after Southsea music venue is saved by one of its regulars

FRESH LEASE OF LIFE Steve Pitt, promotions manager at The Cellar
FRESH LEASE OF LIFE Steve Pitt, promotions manager at The Cellar
The Transports, with narrator Matthew Crampton in the foreground

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A VENUE famed for its love of music has been saved at the 11th hour – by one of its regulars.

Pub giant Enterprise Inns put The Cellars at Eastney up for sale last year, with the threat that property developers would buy it and turn it into flats.

But on Tuesday – the same day the pub was due to go to auction – Malcolm Cannings, who owns MLC Property Management in Drayton, signed the deal to make the venue his.

Former Cellars manager Steve Pitt said: ‘He bought us because, quite simply, he wants us to do what we do.

‘He was actually involved when we originally turned into a music venue – he did all the work.

‘He’s been coming to gigs here for the past five years.’

Since the For Sale sign went up at the venue six months ago, Mr Pitt, who books the music and comedy acts for The Cellars, said ticket sales had fallen away.

And when two weeks ago Enterprise Inns advertised the sale at auction, acts pulled out of performing and the customers stayed away.

‘The last two weeks have been very emotional,’ said Mr Pitt. ‘It’s been a very stressful time. We had a huge amount of support but over the past two weeks, since the advert came out, it’s dropped off.

‘I’m hoping the audiences will return to support our superb programme of live music, comedy and theatre, alongside a few “pub” days for the locals.

‘As a free house, the draught beer prices will drop significantly – making The Cellars an even better value night out.’

The campaign to save the pub attracted high-profile support from Bluetones singer Mark Morriss, and former Inspiral Carpets front an Tom Hingley.

Tom said: ‘This is great news. We need to be keeping the special independent venues like this.’