IT used to be called the New Inn. Then it became the Red Deer. Now it’s the New Inn again.

The pub, which stands beside one of the main routes in and out of Southampton, has had several changes of identity since it opened in the 1890s.

Now the popular watering hole is sporting another new look, thanks to the cafe that occupies the former lounge bar.

Open seven days a week, it serves a full English breakfast plus a wide range of tasty snacks including sandwiches, toasties and burgers.

Pub landlord Rachel Brading wanted to provide a non-alcoholic meeting place for locals, plus an evening venue for clubs, charities and sports teams.

Daily Echo:

The pub also boasts a large beer garden, a heated undercover patio area and a pool table that is free on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Rachel ran the New Inn for eight years before leaving in 2010 and becoming a mortgage broker in Totton.

She began to miss her old life and returned last summer, buying it back from the people to whom she had sold it four years earlier.

“The cafe was something I’d wanted to do before but never got around to it,” she said.

“My aim was to provide a hub for local people who liked to socialise but might not necessarily want to visit a pub.”

Other innovations have included an expansion of the food trade. The pub hosts a pizza night every Friday and has also started to serve Sunday Roasts.

One of the groups based there is the Southampton Armwrestling Squad, which meets in the cafe every Monday and Thursday at 7pm.

Founded by former British armwrestling champion Pete Bennett, the club aims to build a team that can compete in national and international tournaments.

The New Inn is also renowned for staging a large number of community events.

Recent successes include a 1980s theme night and a Easter fair that is thought to have raised a large amount for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Countess Mountbatten Hospice in Southampton.

Music lovers are looking forward to this year’s Newfest celebration, which is due to be staged at the New Inn on August 30.

Rachel, 44, added: “It’s a community-focused pub with a warm atmosphere – everyone is very friendly. Our customers are mainly locals, although we occasionally get a few walkers and cyclists.”

The New Inn occupies a prime site beside the A35 – one of the main routes linking Southampton and the New Forest.

Its name reflects the fact there was already a pub nearby when it opened. The former Stagg Inn is now a private house.

The New Inn, Main Road, Hounsdown, Totton. SO4O 7EP.

Tel: 023 8066 0480.