Last orders was called for the final time at a popular pub before the keys are handed over to property developers.

Regulars enjoyed one last get-together at the 144-year- old Rose Hill Tavern in Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton.

The current owner, Enterprise Inns, has said the business is no longer viable.

But drinkers still harbour hopes that having the pub listed “as an asset of community value” could prevent developers turning the building into flats. Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas was among those at the pub.

She said: “I’ve come down tonight because I feel really gutted that this could be the last night of this really popular pub.

“Over the last few weeks and months it has been demonstrated that it can be viable and over 400 people have signed a petition to keep it open.

“Even though the clock is ticking I’m still hoping even at this last moment we might be able to save it.”

Regulars gathered at the pub to drink the bar dry and enjoy a final cabaret performance by drag queen Sally Vate.

Malcolm Smale, 62, of the Brighton Morris Men, said the folk dancers traditionally open their season there on St George’s Day.

He said: “With all the new developments and the new student housing on London Road this place could have kept going no problem, but they are only looking at the short-term numbers.”

Warren Tullett, 48, said he has used the pub since he moved to Brighton three years ago.

He said: “This pub is a sanctuary for many people where they come to relax.

“Other pubs have big screens and loud music, but this a debating pub where people sit around and talk to each other.”

Some pub-goers could barely contain their anger.

Bob Dinmore, 62, said: “I am totally disgusted that it is closing. I have been coming to this pub for 44 years and I cannot believe this is happening.”

Jim Patience, 37, of John Street, said he has been a patron for 17 years.

“It is just a shame. We need another place con- verted into flats like we need a hole in the head.”

A spokesperson for Enterprise Inns said: “We are in the process of completing a sale to a buyer but we do not have information on their intentions with the site.”