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Quiz Venue

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The Volunteer (Ventnor)

A Short History of The Volunteer

In 1866 Mark Norman and William Ford of Godshill built the house that was to become known as the Volunteer. We are not sure if Cornelius Giles was the very first occupant but in 1871, he took it upon himself to apply for a license to sell beer to his neighbours.
Six years later, his wife Louise bought the freehold and we assume that to start with she ran it herself. However records show that in 1888 she leased “The Volunteer” to Harry Crutchley, an Isle of Wight railway clerk for £40 per annum, and then in 1901 she and Henry Giles (her son perhaps) leased it to Alice Rugg.
Louise died in 1908 and a year later the property was let to Whitbread.
For over 10 years efforts to sell the freehold were fruitless despite attractive descriptions of the pub. Particulars from a Francis Pittis and Son auction held at “Cass’s Crab and Lobster Tap” show that at the ground floor, The Volunteer boasted “Public, Jug and Private Bars, each with separate entrance and a URINAL
In 1920, however Whitbread bought the freehold themselves from Henry Giles for £1,200. They then turned a very quick profit by selling it on to Burts for £2500 the same year and making an even quicker exit. The Volunteer was the last Whitbread pub on the Island until they returned in the 1970’s.
Now part of the Burts stable, the pub enjoyed many years of success.
Past licensees include:
Sydney Mursell, whose rent in 1928 was £200 per annum,
Arthur Gray, whose stock in 1936 was shown as £14 14s 9d,
James Starkey, an ex Salvation Army Captain, also described as “a gas fitter who rode a push bike”, and
Lawrence Mursell, a plumber who became landlord in 1951 and became the Volunteer’s longest serving landlord. He retired on the night of the Great October Storm of 1987.
During the 1960’s the pub ceased trading as a “beer house” and obtained a “full license” when it obtained a ladies toilet.
Adam and Jean Pratt took over the Burts pub from Lawrence Mursell. But the skids were under Burts Brewery. It closed in 1992 and so did the pub.

It lay derelict for nearly 2 years 
and would almost definitely been demolished or turned into a private dwelling if it had not have been for a most unlikely white (or should that be “wight”) knight in shining armour.
Tim Saulwho although a Shanklin lad, had spent many of the preceding years in the Far East working in the insurance business, decided that what he really wanted to do was play jazz and run a little pub. He bought the “Volly”. Although in his own words he was “a bit of a novice” he sought wise advice and quickly developed the skills of a master cellarman. He pursued a policy of good beer but “no chips, children or jukeboxes”. Even
from Tim’s first year, the pub featured in the Campaign for Real Ale‘s National Good Beer Guide and in 2003 it became the Isle of Wight Pub of the Year.
Tim left in August of the same year to open Brechin’s Brasserie on the Isle of Bute.

Saturday Night


Vinyl Night

with fun pop quiz

Bring your own vinyl and be named and shamed

on a trip down memory lane!

Live Music Wednesdays

from trad jazz to blues to comic

Rings, Darts, Ladies darts


30 Victoria Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. PO38 1ES

30 Victoria Street, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. PO38 1ES UK

Wednesday (monthly) & Saturday (infrequent) 8pm

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