The new landlords of the Load of Hay said they would be "putting the gay" back into the town’s only gay pub.

After the previous owner of two years left, Julie Wattam and her partner Linda Hirst agreed to take over the Pinner Road pub.

Ms Wattam, from Highlands in Oxhey, said the pub used to be a venue for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to meet, but had become less popular under its previous management.

The 46-year-old said: "It always used to be a predominantly gay pub and over the past two years it’s not been very gay. A lot of customers have left because they didn’t like the way it was managed.

"We are putting the gay back in the hay. It’s the first time we’ve run a pub so it will be a new venture for us both."

Ms Wattam said the Load of Hay is the only gay pub in the area, with the closest alternative in either London or Luton.

As well as revamping the kitchen, the new management will be bringing back the party nights and quiz.

Ms Wattam said the Load of Hay was not just a pub but an important meeting place.

She  added: "Sometimes people are struggling with their sexuality and don’t know where to go, so they can come here and make some new friends."

Lin Fellows runs a support group for gay women who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out, and plans to use the Load of Hay as a meeting place.

She said: "I am delighted to welcome Julie and Linda in their new venture running the Load of Hay. 

"I know that the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities often experience homophobia, isolation, rejection and lack of support from the community around them.

"They will benefit from meeting like-minded people and others who are open to diversity, at this venue.

"We all need somewhere outside the home to feel accepted and celebrated, especially when you belong to this minority group."

Ms Fellows said she had encountered a lot of excitement within the LGBT community about the pub’s new management.

She added: "They welcome not having to travel into London to have a night out, which can be financially restrictive for many people. I look forward to a new era at the Load of Hay."