A UNIQUE item of Hampshire brewing history is being preserved by Ringwood Brewery.

Taking pride of place in the brewery yard in Christchurch Road is a 30-barrel fermenting vessel that was formerly used to brew up Gales Ales Prize Old Ale, a nine per cent ABV stunner, created by the Horndean company.

After 159 years of beer production George Gale and Company Limited was taken over by London brewers Fullers in the spring and production moved to Chiswick to allow the Horndean premises to be developed.

Until 1994 Ringwood Brewery's head brewer Bob Mavin had worked at Gales and thought it would be a tragedy if the Prize Old Ale vessel was lost.

He spoke to Ringwood managing director David Welsh and Gales' retired head brewer Derek Lowe and a deal was done.