IT’S the family-friendly pub that has been at the heart of the local community for more than 160 years.

The Gamekeeper at Woodlands Road in Woodlands is celebrating a new look after being given a facelift by the new tenants earlier this earlier.

Alan Taylor, 49, and his wife Simeone, 51, already ran The Miller’s Pond in Middle Road, Southampton, but decided to branch out.

After agreeing to manage the Wadsworth-owned Gamekeeper they gave it a £200,0000 makeover, most of which was funded by the couple themselves.

Simeone said: “We wanted to give the pub a more modern look – but still with a country feel – to get the locals back in. We gutted the building, opened everything up and created a fine dining area as well as installing new toilets and giving the whole place a bit of TLC. We also installed brand new oak-framed windows in the conservatory.”

The couple were determined to create one of the best eateries in the area – and the pub is already receiving rave reviews.

Simeone added: “We have a full-time chef, Paul Bannister, who has been with us since day one, and has complete control of the kitchen – it’s really a business within a business.”

The building, which overlooks a quiet country road lined with picture-perfect cottages, has been a pub since 1852.

It used to be called The Royal Oak but 20 years ago was given another name reflecting its New Forest location – The Gamekeeper.

For years it has seen the start of the Netley Marsh Carnival, with floats assembling in the pub park before beginning their journey to Netley Marsh itself.

One of the nearby roads is named after Millvina Dean, who was the last remaining survivor of the Titanic disaster in 1912.

Millvina, who lived at Woodlands and used to visit the pub, died aged 97 in 2009 – three years before the centenary of the sinking.