IT WAS the Southampton pub that was at the heart of a community.

But in February the Junction Inn in St Denys was destroyed by a fire which shocked locals and caused £300,000 damage.

Now, six months on, the watering hole is rising from the ashes, and is being reopened.

The pub was destroyed after a blaze caused by an electrical fault.

No one was harmed in the twohour fire, which was put out by 25 firefighters.

Owner Martin Gentry, 54, from St Denys was stunned when he saw the damage to the roof and living area.

He said: “I was in a complete state of shock. I just couldn’t believe it, it was very lucky no one got hurt because a few people were inside.”

For the last few months the pub, in Priory Road, had been little more than a boarded up derelict building.

Mr Gentry said: “The St Denys Community Centre has really missed using the pub, we used to offer food to groups and there was a real sense of community pride.”

Before the blaze the pub was doing well, but because of the fire, Mr Gentry and wife Dawn, moved house five times in six months, and they’re both looking forward to taking possession of the pub on Monday.

To mark the Junction Inn’s return there is an opening on September 7, with live music.

Mr Gentry can also share another bit of good news with the punters, because he and wife Dawn have just tied the knot.

The couple have been behind the bar running the pub together for 11 years and Mr Gentry added: “It will be nice to celebrate the marriage with the regulars.

Being away from the pub has meant we have had time to plan the wedding and get married.

“The best thing is now the pub is going to be opened again.

We h a v e recruited new staff and planned a new layout. It really is fantastic to be back.”