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Pub saved as new era begins at Talking Heads in Southampton

Pub saved as new era begins at Talking Heads in Southampton

Guy Benfield, left, and Martin White outside Talking Heads

Guy Benfield, left, and Martin White outside Talking Heads

First published in Entertainments Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Politics and business reporter

ONE of Hampshire’s best-loved music venues has been saved, the Daily Echo can reveal.

The Talking Heads is set to reopen next month after a Southampton duo rode to the rescue of the iconic city pub, which closed in early January.

Businessman Guy Benfield, 52, has signed a lease with the landlords to take over the venue.

He will run it will business partner Martin White, 54, a school pal who has worked in the music and the entertainment industry for decades, including a stint as the Talking Heads’ sound engineer.

Previous names linked to rescuing the venue included Isle of Wight festival supremo John Giddings and Radio One DJ Rob da Bank.

As reported in the Daily Echo, previous proprietor Mark Hughes ceased trading blaming financial pressure caused by the recession.

The doors closed despite an online campaign, backed by around 4,000 people, to keep the Portswood Road venue going.

Mr White, who teaches live event production at Southampton Solent University, said he was confident the venue would be put back on its feet.

He said condition of the building and its amenities had deteriorated over the past few years and the venue would remain closed while remedial work and refurbishments are carried out, including a possible new beer garden.

The beer cellar will also be renovated and a selection of top real ales put back on hand pumps.

Mr White said he hoped the venue could reopen as early as the middle of next month as an “attractive venue for all kinds of events”, including music, p r o d u c t i o n , drama and dance workshops.

He said the front bar would open from noon as a traditional pub.

The 260-capacity club is renowned for staging an eclectic mix of musical genres from folk, reggae and jazz to indie and punk as well as welcoming comedy, drama and poetry. It has helped launched the careers of many up and coming acts.

Over the years the Talking Heads has hosted gigs from such acts as The Script, The Damned, Juliette Lewis, The New York Dolls and Southampton-based trio Band Of Skulls.

Mr Benfield, who is in the final year of an archaeology degree at the University of Southampton, said he was grateful for all the support shown to the Talking Heads.

He said: “It’s an important venue, an important place for Southampton, and it’s very exciting to be reopening it as quickly as possible.”

The pub is owned by Southampton-based property firm Bajar Estates Ltd, which paid £351,000 for the freehold nearly eight years ago.

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