AN HISTORIC pub near the New Forest has scooped a conservation award after being restored to its Victorian splendour.

The Railway Hotel in Hightown Road, Ringwood, is run by Malcolm and Hannah Evans, who have spent three years transforming the premises with the aid of old photographs.

Now the popular watering hole has been awarded a Certificate of Merit by The Ringwood Society, which aims to protect the character of historic buildings in the town.

Owned by Admiral Taverns, the pub is near the former site of the town’s railway station, which fell victim to the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

An Admiral Taverns spokesman said: “The pub was built at the same time as the railway, which was used by farmers from the surrounding villages after bringing their produce and livestock to Ringwood market. The pub was a popular destination, with farmers treating it as a last stop before the journey home.

“Malcolm and Hannah took over as licensees in 2013 and set about restoring the Railway to its original Victorian style using an original photograph. They have refurbished the exterior in keeping with surrounding buildings and have collected an array of old prints and pictures which are showcased around the pub.”

Hannah, 26, added: “We love Ringwood and we love traditional pubs. We made contact with relatives of people who were landlords at the Railway in the 40s and 50s and well as studying old photographs.

“We love it and so do our customers. It’s now more like a traditional New Forest pub than an eighties boozer.”

The Ringwood Society presented the couple with their award at the group’s annual meeting.

Anna Clissold, business development manager at Admiral Taverns, said: “We are delighted The Ringwood Society has chosen the Railway for a Certificate of Merit.

“The dedication and commitment from Malcolm and Hannah to the restoration and refurbishment of the pub has been fantastic and we’re pleased it has been recognised.”

The pub is set to toast its award during a three-day beer festival being over this bank holiday weekend.