IT'S the New Forest pub which has changed its name to honour a former landlady who ran the popular watering hole for 50 years.

The Rydal Arms in Station Road, New Milton, has become the Walker Arms in homage to Gladys Walker, who was Britain's oldest landlady when she retired in 2001.

Gladys pulled her first pint at the pub on February 15 1951.

Daily Echo:

She and her husband Fred came across the traditional 19th century establishment during a south coast holiday and applied to take over the tenancy after discovering the landlord was due to move on.

The pub became increasingly popular, particularly among patrons of a cinema which used to stand next door.

Other customers included showbiz stars performing in Bournemouth. Those who made special trips to the Rydal included Max Bygraves and Arthur Haynes.

Gladys took over the full tenancy following her husband's death and in the 1990s oversaw the creation a large dining area at the rear.

In 1995 the BBC made a documentary called Still in Business, which examined Gladys’s life behind the bar. She told how she had come to regard her clients not as customers but as friends.

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In 2001 she celebrated 50 years at the pub with a party attended by 50 past and present New Forest licensees who presented her with a crystal glass.

Later that year she reluctantly pulled her last pint and moved into a nearby bungalow. She died in 2005 aged 87.

Today the general manager is Ian Farrington, 52, who has been in the trade for almost 20 years. He arrived at the pub four weeks ago after spending two years at Port Solent.

Ian said: "The Walker Arms is a local community pub. We offer food at reasonable rates, including a Sunday roast along with the normal menu.

"We have a DJ on Friday nights and on Saturday nights we have live acts - everything from solo artists to bands singing The Blues."