Community buys Wittering pub to save it from housing

Ship Shape director Daniel Morgan (far right) and staff at the Ship Inn, Itchenor, who will also run the Old House at Home
Ship Shape director Daniel Morgan (far right) and staff at the Ship Inn, Itchenor, who will also run the Old House at Home

When it closed suddenly in October last year, it looked certain a coastal community had lost its only pub.

Then The Old House at Home’s brewery owners, Punch Taverns, launched a bid to turn it into housing, seemingly dashing any hope of saving the popular West Wittering pub.

Not content to sit back and just do nothing however, a group of people in the village got together and bought the venue, which is about to be refurbished ready to reopen this summer.

Alex Hoare from West Wittering is one of the new local owners of the Old House.

Alex said: “When it closed in October we just thought a village needs a local pub, without it you lose what is great about a local community.

“We couldn’t let it just become housing so a group of 14 of us from the area put up the money and bought it from Punch.

“It’s an exciting project and we can’t wait to see it restored to a great local pub serving great local food.”

The group sought out expertise to run it, and have signed an agreement for the Ship Shape Pub Company to refurbish and operate the Cakeham Road establishment.

Ship Shape has just completed a full refurbishment of Itchenor pub the Ship Inn, having taken in over recently, and Alex said its impressive work there prompted the alliance.

Ship Shape director Daniel Morgan said: “The Old House at Home was going to be taken over by developers but we have got together with the Hoare family and a consortium of villagers who have bought it and we are going to refurbish and run it.

“We’re going through the refurbishment plan now with our builders.

“We think it will take around seven weeks so we’re looking to reopen it in early May.

He added: “The village deserves a great local pub and we’re hoping to provide it.”

Bredan Kirwan, former head chef at the Fox Goes Free in Charlton, has been recruited as lead chef for both the Ship Inn and Old House at Home.

Both Alex and Daniel hope the popular pub will be as well supported as ever.

Alex added: “We’ve had such a positive reaction, it will be a real community asset but of course it will need to be used.”