A CALL to legally safeguard our pubs has been made after a historic watering hole was offered up to developers.

The 140-year-old Ship Inn in Woolston is on the market as an “exciting opportunity for residential redevelopment”.

Now John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, says the Government needs to beef up laws to protect pubs. He said: “We need stronger protection. The problem here is that the pub companies are not pub companies but property companies.

“They are now more interested in making money from properties rather than supporting community pubs.”

But Punch Taverns said while it was selling the Victoria Road pub, it hoped it would remain a boozer.

Its spokesman said: “We do review our estate regularly and may explore other options around the future of our less sustainable sites, or where they might better fulfil their potential for the local community under different ownership. The pub remains open for the short term and we will ensure that our licensee is kept fully up to date on developments.”

Yet the pub, which quenched the thirst of shipyard workers from the neighbouring Vosper Thorncroft yard until that shut in 2004, is being officially sold as ripe for redevelopment.

This is because it is opposite Southampton’s biggest residential development, the £500m redevelopment of the shipyard which will eventually see 3,000 new residents.

Richard Acton, leisure and trading surveyor at Savills, which is selling the pub, said: “Although a commercial site, the premises at Victoria Road also presents an exciting opportunity for residential redevelopment Furthermore, it benefits from a superb location.”