Words and photo by Tristan Ovington.
The Winchester Gate has come out of lockdown in good health, according to manager, Jamie Lillycrop. “Lockdown was both devastating and a blessing for us. In November, we managed to get a portion of the money from the Cultural Recovery Fund. This money allowed us to build the tent stage at the back of the pub.”
Customers described the pub opening up again as “feeling like they were returning home”.
“The Winchester Gate is important for people because some guests don’t come to buy alcohol, just to chat. One guy comes every Friday and says we are the only people he speaks to all day.”
Change is important for Jamie. “We recently swapped the cocktail machine for two craft ale taps. As a pub, you must look at what people are drinking and adjust what you offer.”
On the business front, Jamie has embraced the need to diversify to meet the needs of customers. “We have been able to tap into a whole different market for children to help guests see that a pub can be a family-friendly environment. That’s why we have artists like Rock The Tots who specialise in gigs for kids.”
So what does the future hold? “The Winchester Gate has been a pub since 1654, but we need to be accessible for today’s market. We are always looking to host more diverse acts and to make people of any age feel welcome. And we have a lot planned for Christmas.”