Rodney Trotter and Fat Olives - only in Emsworth

THOUGH relatively small in stature, Emsworth is not a place to be underestimated.

Nicholas Lyndhurst – who shot to fame for his portrayal of Rodney in Only Fools and Horse – was born here.

Emsworth harbour''Picture by Louise Adams C131536-2 Chi Emsworth.

Emsworth harbour''Picture by Louise Adams C131536-2 Chi Emsworth.

So too was actress Denise Black, known for her roles in Coronation Street and Queer as Folk.

Name-dropping aside, Emsworth has hit the headlines for being at the mercy of the Mill Pond and the worst floods ever seen.

But residents have shown how pro-active they are – most recently by welcoming new community-led initiative, ‘Walkers are Welcome’.

The stunning landscape has now been officially recognised, and the town is only the second member of the group in Hampshire.

Visitors can also walk around Thorney Island’s army barracks, a centre for air defence.

Meanwhile, Emsworth Primary School pupils are learning to enhance their local environment, and with Emsworth tree wardens, they planted more than 20 trees around their school at the end of last year.

Councillor for Emsworth Brendan Gibb-Gray is a tree warden among his other commitments.

He said: “We are trying to encourage members of the community to plant more trees to enhance our area and hopefully generations of children will get involved.”

The pretty coastal town is a destination for food-lovers.

Run by Lawrence and Julia Murphy for 14 years, Fat Olives restaurant in South Street was last year included in the Sunday Times ‘The Incredible Edibles 2013’, a guide to Britain’s top restaurants.

At the same time, the Driftwood Cafe in the High Street won the Gold Award from the Café Society Awards for Best Independent Café.

Manager Rebecca Stickley said: “We were delighted to receive the award as it covered all elements of the café, from service, food and drink, atmosphere and appearance.

“We have a great team and fantastic support from our regulars and the community.

“Being recognised in this competitive industry is an amazing achievement and we are very proud.”

Owner Clare Wright added: “This is a very prestigious award and we are one of five independent cafes/coffee shops chosen in the country from the UK Coffee Industry.

“Our Gold Certificate will be proudly displayed and is well deserved due to the hard work, care and quality service that Rebecca Stickley, my manager gives.

“I have run Driftwood Café for five years now and The Pavilion Tearoom, Stansted for nearly 15 so being recognised by the café society is really special to me.”

The town is also renowned for its flourishing pub trade.

Along the main road is the Sussex Brewery, often fondly referred to as the ‘Sausage Pub’ – nicknamed so because at one time, it would offer diners a choice of more than 40 sausages.

Further down the hill is The Lord Raglan. Sally and Pete Mahoney have run the pub for five years, and locals flock there on Sunday for the fabulous roast dinners cooked by Sue and Phil, returning again in the evening for a live band.

Resident Stephanie Elsy is one of the forerunners in establishing Emsworth’s neighbourhood plan. “We are the first area in the district to develop a neighbourhood plan,” she said. “We must first establish ourselves as a neighbourhood forum, applying to Havant Borough Council for approval.

“What excites me is this comes entirely from people in the town, not from the council. We want to protect what people love about Emsworth – a seaside town, with incredible walks and wildlife habitats.”

“If the plan got the go-ahead, any future developments would be in keeping with the character and loveliness of our town.”