PUBLICAN Phil Hoyle renewed a 30-year association with a Hampshire watering hole when he took over last year.

The London Tavern, in Linford Road, Ringwood, is named after the original owner, who was dubbed Johnnie Londoner because of his associations with the capital.

Mr Hoyle, 44, has known the building since 1988, when it became the first pub he drank in.

He went on to run several pubs the the Bournemouth area, including the Pig and Whistle, before embarking on a four-year stint as an estate agent.

Mr Hoyle returned to the London Tavern in August last year – this time as the landlord.

New Forest Post:

He and his partner, Sarah Williams, have spent the past six months welcoming customers old and new, many of whom are attracted by the pub’s growing reputation for good food.

Opened in the 1860s, it is something of an oasis in an ever-changing world.

In the past few decades Ringwood has expanded in all directions, engulfing many of the farms and cottages which surrounded what was once a small market town.

But it is still possible to locate tiny pockets of the “old” New Forest.

New Forest Post:

Situated opposite a thatched house built in 1684, the London Tavern stands beside a narrow road where only an occasional car disturbs the peace.

Mr Hoyle said: “I used to live 100 yards away and this is the first pub I drank in.

“It’s a traditional country pub. We’ve tried to keep it the way pubs should be – or used to be. We also serve good food and have a great chef in Dan Robinson, who is fantastic.”

The bar boasts a tribute to one-time regular Ray Dean, a 19-year-old Spitfire pilot who was killed over France on November 17, 1941.

A photograph of Ray and some of his fellow airmen is displayed in the corner.