IT’S popular with university students, commuters and council officers alike.

But for one Winchester pub it’s all about selling traditional British grub and a decent pint of golden ale.

St James Tavern promises a warm seat right by its fireplace, which this time of year adds to its aura as a welcoming hillside retreat.

Throw in a pretty bustling beer garden and you’ve got a packed pub most days of the year.

And it’s not just the ambience that draws in the punters.

Students, county council workers and even prison officers flock towards this friendly yet quirky boozer which is embellished with random reclaimed artefacts, including a vintage record player and no less than seven manual sewing machines.

Every crevice has been lovingly handled, with no detail left out, by its owner Jayne Gillin who also runs sister pubs the Green Man in Southgate Street, Mucky Duck in Hyde Street and the Cornerhouse in Parchment Street.

“Jayne does a lot to make the pub look the way it does – a cosy, warm feel,” said James Bennett, pub manager.

Daily Echo:

Chef Andrew Taylor, James Bennett, and Alice May

Mr Bennett has worked there for nearly three years and says the pub’s success is all down to the customers and the good vibe.

“We’re close to the train station; we get a lot of people coming here before heading home or before getting the train.

“I’ve worked in quite a few pubs around the place and here can be really good if you come in by yourself,” he said.

“There are always people who are up for a chit-chat so you get to talk to people outside of your normal friendship group.

“We get a good mix of people coming from offices and commuters which creates a nice welcoming atmosphere and real cross-section of people. They’re good fun and entertaining.

“Quite a few of us have been here quite a while so people know us so it’s nice for people to see the same sort of faces.”

Alice May, 22, has worked at the bar part-time for four years while studying her fine art degree.

“My favourite thing about working here are the staff and the customers,”

she said. “We know quite a few of the regulars and, because I’m so comfortable here, it can make them feel really welcome.”

Mr Bennett added: “My favourite pint at the moment is the 6X. My favourite evening is pie night – a proper short-crust pastry pie. We did a pork and apple with cider and tarragon sauce one which was very tasty.”

Pie nights, which are held every Wednesday, is £10 for a pie and a pint, or a glass of wine, as is curry night on Mondays.

Tuesday nights – one of the most popular nights of the week – is quiz night and open mic night is held on the first Sunday of each month. Brunch is served on weekends from 11am-3pm.

Lunch costs £6.25 for a sandwich, or £6.95 for a salad to £10.95 for the house burger, or beer-battered cod and chips.

Starters for dinner cost from £5.95 for the soup of the week and mains start from £10.95 for sausage and mash to £20.95 for the trio of steaks.

They also do a range of veggie, meat and fish platters from £8.95 to £19.95 and desserts cost £5.95.

A 125ml glass of wine starts at £3.10 to the priciest 175ml glass at £5.40.

The cheapest bottle – a Chenin or Shiraz – starts at £15 to the bottle of sparkling Moet at £45.

A pint of draft Fosters is £3.80 while the Birra Moretti is £4.90.

The cheapest ale is Henry’s at £3.30 while the guest ale – which is Lancaster Bomber at present – is always £3.80.

Soft drinks start at £3 for a pint of cola, and bottles of fruit juice and special sparkling drinks are £2.60.

St James Tavern, 3 Romsey Road, Winchester. SO22 5BE Tel: 01962 861288.