SOUTHAMPTON residents groups have called on a recently closed pub to be saved.

Described as a historical gem in a suburban setting the Old Farmhouse recently closed its doors after health inspectors found the kitchen was infested with rats.

A damning inspection of the premises on February 25 found rat droppings in a food storage area and no hot water supply for the whole building.

However chairman of the Outer Avenue Residents Association, John Hayward has said it would be a shame if the pub closed permanently describing it as a sad loss for the city.

He added: "It is remarkable how fast pubs are disappearing everywhere. The Old Farmhouse should be saved."

Despite its neglected state, the Grade II listed building has many of its original features such as low ceilings, exposed beams and brickwork, wood panelling and open fireplaces.

It is even rumoured Oliver Cromwell stayed there in the 1650s.

Member of the Inner Avenue Residents Association, Wendy Stokes said: It's a enormous pity that it closed. It's a beautiful building. It would be nice to turn it into a pub restaurant."

A report from the Food Standards Agency, who carried out the inspection, stated it needed “urgent improvement” and gave it food hygiene rating of 0 out of 5.

The 17th-century pub in Mount Pleasant Road was the only food establishment in the city to score a zero in recent times.

A spokesman from SeeSouthampton, Geoffrey Wheeler, said: "One of the problems in Southampton is that so many pubs have closed. When a place like the Old Farmhouse closes we are losing history. We do not appreciate something until it's gone. The challenge is to make pubs commercially viable. Unless someone takes them on they go."

Following the inspection by the Food Standards Agency, the former owners opted for a for voluntary closure and stopped trading two weeks later, on March 12.

The doors of the premises are now chained shut and rubbish lies strewn about its side entrance.