How often do you go to the pub? Many of us prefer an impromptu night in the local to an organised trip to Oceana requiring the effort of getting dressed up, pre-drinking and taxis, yet for some reason tend to do the latter. But why?
Over the past decade, Southampton nights out have become more and more club focused. Friday nights out are hazy memory blanks; Jägerbombs start to taste like water; we’re driven home from Jesters in shopping trolleys. We’ve been to the Oceana so many times we can mime the lyrics to Come on Eileen backwards and have the dance to Year 3000 perfected. For Freshers, their first two weeks of clubbing will be exhilarating, as ours were. But for many of us the novelty of clubbing every night has worn off. Where else can we go out to comfortably drink alcohol without burning massive holes in our pockets? Where can we chat without having to scream over Nicki Minaj?
The way things are going, the answer is not the pub. Over the past 50 years, over 100 pubs in the city have been renovated into other venues, mainly convenience stores. Earlier this year, resentful regulars of The Stoneham Arms (Basset Green) lost their campaign to save their local pub. One campaigner, Paul Dixon, told the Daily Echo
The pub used to be a place where people mingled to get to know each other and created community spire. That will be lost within a couple of years
The closing down of pubs has been so drastic that civic chiefs are battling to stop it. But the likelihood is that the purge will continue. Here are a few reasons why we should make the most of pubs in Southampton before even more disappear:
Pubs offer a variety of bubbly largers, fruity ciders and locally brewed bitters. We dedicate so much of our time and money to alcohol- why not taste the good stuff more often? The Rockstone (Bevois Valley road) has won awards for the quality and success of its spirits and cider. Rob Willcock, editor of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser magazine, said:
The judges were really impressed with the range and quality of ciders and the extensive range of quality spirits served at the pub.
Max Greenwood, owner of The Rockstone, said to the Soton Tab
I prefer pubs because I’m old fashioned, when I go out to see my friends, I’d rather be able to hear them talk, than stand around in the dark shouting over the music.
Many of the city’s pubs also serve great locally brewed ales and bitters, such as Ringwood Best. And these traditionally English beers are hugely popular with Southampton pub-goers.
In pubs we can hear each other speak. We don’t have to swarm out to the smoking area to have a decent chat. The White Horse in New Forest is one example of a charming Southampton pub in a beautiful setting with a great atmosphere as well as quality drinks. Many of us are already familiar with pubs on our doorstep in Portswood. The Mitre, The Gordon Arms and The Richmond Inn are all examples of local pubs with lively atmospheres at night time. But many of us only use these pubs as a stop-off point before going to a club. Unlike clubbing, pubs offer less pressure to buy so much alcohol that that we are left with no money and no dignity. There’s no need to dress up, nor will our shoes be stained unrecognisably by the Jester’s dance floor. It’s a refreshing venue where we’re judged on our conversations, not our dance moves. Plus, there’s no entry fee!
Southampton is not known for its historical beauty, and this is because it was relentlessly bombed in World War II. Thousands of churches, theatres, old cinemas were destroyed. The heart of the city, the ancient High Street, was left unrecognisable. Nazi groups actually used Southampton’s destruction as propaganda – taking pride in its ‘smoking ruins’. But, for a city with so much of its history destroyed, many pubs stayed intact. The Red Lion is a pub that escaped the Blitz, and prides itself in being the oldest pub in Southampton. Built in the 12th century, the pub is rumoured to be haunted with ghosts, and one of its main attractions is a half-timbered apartment believed to be one of Henry V’s courtrooms. The King tried three men for conspiracy here, and they were executed by the Bargate. Historical pubs like this may have escaped the Southampton Blitz, but might not escape being closed down now. Definitely worth a visit before they’re replaced by another Co-op or Tesco’s Express!
The Stag’s is great, but why should this on-campus pub be the only one we go to? We go to lectures with students, we live with students, and we go out with students. It’s no wonder we live in a student bubble in which it is easy to forget others exist. Going to local pubs offers the refreshing opportunity to get immersed with the locals and show them we’re not really as bad as some may think. After all, what’s the point in living in a city where you know nobody but your other friends from London or Surrey? Get chatting to the locals and you’ll see that they have so much to recommend – from bars and restaurants to parks and picnic spots. They know Southampton a lot better than we do, so why not ask them to share their knowledge?
Lots of Southampton pubs seek bar staff available evenings and weekends, working on a bar is a perfect student job. You get working hours out of lecture times and can chat to some really interesting people, from friendly old regulars to the pub owners themselves.
What can we do?
Part of the reason so many pubs are closing down is because Landlords profit better from convenience stores’ low cut alcohol deals. We need to give the pub landlords a reason to deny offers to be bought out. Make sure you get down the pub this year!
Do you enjoy a night at the pub? Have any recommendations on pubs to visit in Southampton? Let us know in the comments below!