You would be forgiven for assuming that the Wight Bear alehouse was on the Isle of Wight, but its name originates from the view across to the island from Bournemouth. The shape of the chalk cliffs near the Needles looks uncannily like a polar bear! Landlady Nicola told me that before they had the polar bear idea they had come close to calling their pub the Wright Flyer after Charles Roll’s aircraft that crashed nearby in the early 20th century causing the first aircraft fatality in the UK. I think they made the right choice.
So you’ll find this micropub in the Southbourne area of Bournemouth, on a busy high street, with a bus shelter outside that hampers any attempt to take a decent photo of the pub’s exterior! 🙂
Headed up by David and Nicola, the Wight Bear really is a family affair with various family members working shifts behind the bar (well, ok, there isn’t a bar, but you catch my drift!) Not only that, but Nicola’s brother, Sean, who lives in New Zealand, designed all the artwork for the pub, including the polar bear logo. At the time I visited he had never seen the fruit of his designs, although I’m told that he has since been over to the UK to visit the pub and the family.
The micropub is set up in a broad, square-ish room and so it feels quite spacious. It is furnished with chunky timber bar-height tables and benches, with quite a large standing area in the middle.
Across much of the rear of the room is the air-conditioned beer room, visible to customers through glass panels. When I visited, they had a choice of three cask ales on offer. Also ciders, perry, wines, spirits, teas and coffee, soft drinks and cans of beer (incl lager!) but somehow they have managed to pull this off without detracting from the “micropub” atmosphere. They also have 2 pint pitchers available.
When I visited the Wight Bear it had only been open for a couple of months but they already had a loyal following of regulars. The place was packed and buzzing on a Sunday afternoon. Unlike many micropubs, the Wight Bear has all-day opening (roughly regular pub hours) every day of the week except Monday. I guess that’s one of the advantages of getting family members involved.
As with so many other micropubs, it’s the kind of place I’d love to have as my local.