Please save our pub. That is the plea from campaigners trying to rescue a Southampton pub, which closed at the end of last month.
The Stoneham Arms in Bassett Green Road has been used by thousands of customers for more than 60 years but last orders were called for the final time when the previous licensees chose not to renew the lease.
The closure has meant the loss of nine jobs and it caught pub regular and lead campaigner Paul Dixon by surprise.
He said: “I was in Majorca when I heard the news. It had been up for lease for four or five months, but we always thought they would have a new landlord and that would be that.”
Now Paul, who has been going to the pub four times a week since 1988, has rounded up a group of regulars who have created a petition to try and save the pub. Originally the group planned to take over the lease, but now the pub needs a freeholder to take it over.
Paul added: “It’s like a family pub here. We all get along and meet up. But since it shut we have barely been able to see each other.
“We want someone to take it on and bring it to its former glory. It is a cracking pub, and it is the beating heart of the community here, we have got nothing here without it, and we do not want to see it turn into a supermarket.”
The closure has come at a time when an increasing number of pubs are closing, many being turned into convenience stores.
As reported by the Daily Echo, a separate campaign is currently under way to save The Bittern in Thornhill Park Road from becoming a McDonald’s restaurant.
Back in 2008, The Stoneham Arms was a thriving hub of the Stoneham and Bassett community.
Every week hundreds of people would visit for wakes following funerals at nearby Southampton Crematorium, and its popularity saw it win the Best Pub Title at the 2008 Best Bar None Awards in Southampton.
Alan Harvey, 72, of Ventnor Court, was a regular for 43 years. He said: “I have been at a loss since it closed. We used to come in here and put the world to rights and run down the Government. We were probably talking a lot of rubbish, but it was our pub.”
Also supporting the campaign to save the pub is Labour councillor for Swaythling, Sharon Mintoff.
She said: “I have fond memories of the Stoneham Arms and I want to see it restored to its former glory. It is a lovely building and always used by a lot people. I want to do all I can to save the pub.”
The pub is owned by Enterprise Inns, which was unavailable for comment about its plans for The Stoneham Arms site.