THE Dolphin has stood at the heart of a Southampton community for more than a century.

Despite being one of the city’s best-known boozers it may look different to pubgoers who have not been there for a while.

The pub in St Deny's is under new management and Steven Wicken and Inez Williams have injected much of their own personality as they carried out major work after taking over in April.

Steven, a former surveyor who had worked with pub landlords prior to taking on the Dolphin, said: “We came in here and I’ve never seen a pub so dirty, dark and dingy. I would say it’s the phoenix rising from the ashes – there were three working lightbulbs when we first arrived and we had to buy another 30 straightaway.”

As part of the task of getting the pub spick and span they had to clear 20 years’ worth of rubbish from the garden, which has allowed them to open up a big new area that was previously out of bounds to punters.

“We are here to stay and the intention is to be here for at least five to ten years ourselves. The Dolphin is Southampton’s best kept secret.”

Its interior has been lovingly restored to a “warm, Victorian-style” feel, with Steve adding: “It’s a proper community pub.”

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The pub has long had a reputation for live music and that is something Steven and Inez want to rekindle.

Six or seven nights a week the pub will feature local acts. But of course a pub couldn’t be a success if it didn’t lavish the appropriate level of love and care on its beers and food. There is a real emphasis on local ales, with up to 50 local creations rotated and 23 craft ales.

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Beer and cider drinkers alike shouldn’t go thirsty at the Dolphin, with anything from Romsey-brewed DNA and Samuel Adams to Robinsons and Thatchers on offer.

And the food has also had a lot of time and care lavished on it, with Steven saying his and Inez’s mixed cultural background has given the food a diversity.

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