Since the Fay family took over Clockwork Bar on Shirley Road, there motto has been “the same but different.”

Husband and wife – Mark 50, and Emma, 49 – took over management of the bar in October 2023, having previously spent time in the establishment as customers.

When the pair learned the former owner was looking to sell the business, they took the daring decision to run the company, despite having no prior experience of managing a bar.

Seven months on and the couple couldn’t be happier with their choice despite having existing jobs – with Emma a self-employed administrator and Mark a business owner in his own right.

With the help of their two daughters Mollie, 22, and Evie, 19, they’ve transformed the intimate bar into a friendly family hub, encouraging guests to chat to one another, take part in quiz nights, and even allowing visitors to play the piano beside an old grandfather clock, tucked away at the rear of the building, in a room affectionately called ‘the nook.’

Mark told the Echo: “It’s been an incredible journey really and we’re so glad we took the chance because we were jumping into the unknown slightly.

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“I wouldn’t say we were regular drinkers here before, but we certainly liked coming here, so to be able to come in and put our own stamp on it and create a really nice family environment, whilst also retaining many of the regulars is great.”

As well as redesigning the interior of Clockwork Bar to make it more open plan, Mark and Emma planted olive trees outside in the outdoor seating area to create a unique garden like feeling in the middle of Shirley, before updating the company’s main signage with a smooth green colouring.

The family have also put a distinctive spin on some of their items, with customers able to purchase ‘clocktails’ and ‘clock ices,’ in a warm and friendly environment, contributing to a thriving high street in Shirley.

Clockwork Bar is also committed to selling quality wines and local beer at affordable prices, with Emma saying: “If we can’t drive there, we won’t do it – we pride ourselves on getting all our produce within a two-hour radius.

“We care about what we do and the people we meet, we’re proud to be here and be a part of the community.”