SINCE the tender age of 18 Kath Birch has been working behind bars in Southsea.
It all began in Neros, the trendy nightclub which once stood opposite South Parade Pier.
The club was followed by a series of pubs – the 5th Hants Volunteers, the Sir Loin of Beef, the Gravediggers and the Red White and Blue.
Kath, of Duncan Road, said: ‘I’ve loved every minute and never been unemployed in my life.
‘It was always my dream to eventually run a pub of my own and really The Phoenix was top of my list.
‘I worked here before I took over as landlady and the person who had it before me wasn’t interested in the link to The Kings Theatre. He took all the photos down and I managed to hide them to stop them being thrown away.
‘The day I took over the first thing I did was run to the drawer I’d hidden them in and they were still there.’
Kath has lovingly put back the pictures of Frankie Howerd and Googie Withers and can count contemporary Kings stars such as Lisa Riley and Su Pollard as friends.
‘Lisa is a patron of The Kings now and she keeps in touch. Su Pollard pops in whenever she is in the area and Syd Little writes to me regularly. They love this place. There is such a connection.’
Kath, who is single, admits she spoils the sports teams with home cooked food and loves organising barbecues for customers in the summer.
She said: ‘This is a traditional English pub. Very well supported by the regulars and most of the neighbours drink here. I love it. I’m going out of here in my box.’