GREAT food, alcohol and ambiance - these are surely the secret ingredients to a great pub experience?

Well, one of Newport’s oldest pubs and hotels can proudly boast of providing a relaxing atmosphere to people since the 1800s.

The Handpost Hotel, on Risca Road, came into being roughly during the 1820s.

It was built as a lodge, where postmen would rendezvous for a drink and rest before heading off on their journey to deliver post throughout the Welsh valleys.

A water fountain outside the building also proved useful for the workers’ horses as they too were able to become re-energised before setting off.

But with the expansion of the railways two decades later, the sight of horses passing the building gradually became less familiar. And with that, post workers were not frequenting in such large numbers as they had once done.

The next big change was the introduction of trams around the-then town which saw even less horse-drawn postmen popping to the Handpost before carrying out their duties.

According to records, the The Handpost Hotel became a pub sometime between the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Accommodation at the site ceased in the early 1950s. It is not known why. Some local historians and regulars have suggested a decline in clientele due to changing times was the cause.

Current manager Nicky Mackenzie took over the pub in October 2016 and made it a "hotel again".

She said: “I have run a few places and when I found out about The Handpost Hotel I knew that I wanted to run it.

“When I came, the rooms upstairs were not being used. They had not been used for many years.

“One of the first things I did when taking over was turn the building into a hotel as well as a pub."

She added: “There has been a lot of change, especially with decor. But then again, there have been a lot of owners and managers over the years and they have changed the place quite a bit.”

From the early 1950s to 2001, The Handpost Hotel was owned by brewery Ansells. During that period, it was managed by a number of landlords.

Come 2016, the Green King bought the building.

Miss Mackenzie believes the pub plays a prominent role in the community.

She said: “The site has been used for many, many years.

“History shows that people really care for the place - it has been going since the 1880s.

“Everyone knows The Handpost Hotel.”

She added: “Everyone who come shere are like a big family. We have customers who have been coming here for more than 30 years.”

John Davis, who lives in Risca Road, has been coming to the pub for 50 years and said he has seen a great deal of change over the years.

“It is a terrific play to come to,” said the 88-year-old.

“I love the old photos on the wall.

“I vaguely remember lots of people coming here during the 1940s. I started drinking here in the 1950s and the rooms were no longer open then.

“When you walk in you can tell it is old. The biggest change I have seen is the place being used as a hotel again.”

Another regular Graham James, who lives in Stow Hill, said his grandfather had used the pub regularly as a postman.

“He would stop in here for a pint before going onto work,” said the 89-year-old.

“I remember him and my parents telling me that he would meet colleagues in The Handpost Hotel for a drink.

“I do not visit as often because of my age. But it has a big place in my heart.”

He added: “My favourite part of the pub has gone to be the beer and the collection of old photographs.

"Looking at the old photos shows the history and how much the place has changed."