Drinkers get a taste of Portsmouth’s history at Nelson-themed pub

Landlady of The Lady Hamilton, Rose Scott''''Picture: Sarah Standing (131779-9940)
Landlady of The Lady Hamilton, Rose Scott''''Picture: Sarah Standing (131779-9940)

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If you want to sup a pint in a cosy pub that’s steeped in history, then The Lady Hamilton is the place to be.

The walls of the 19th century premises at The Hard, Portsea, Portsmouth, are covered in pictures of the city from around the time of The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The pub was once known as the Nag’s Head and owned by the local Pike Brewery.

It was then turned into a wine merchants by 1920 and then later transformed into a bookshop. In 1991, when the place was empty, Bill and Rose Scott came along and decided to get it going as a pub again.

They picked the name The Lady Hamilton, who was Lord Horatio Nelson’s mistress, because they thought it would be something a bit different.

Bill and Rose are still the landlords 22 years on and they say they’ve loved every minute.

Bill, 65, said: ‘I was originally going to make it into a wine shop, but then one day I found the original skids which transport beer down to the cellar behind the wall.

‘I didn’t even know there was a cellar, so I decided to make the place a pub again.’

The pub also has 11 rooms for people who want to stay.

It’s well-known for its roast dinners and more than 300 portions are dished up every Sunday.

It gets so busy that people come to the door with plates so they can take one home to eat.

Bill said: ‘Without food we wouldn’t survive.

‘That’s why so many pubs are closing.

‘Some of them are also not in the right position. They’re on side streets.’

Being on The Hard, the pub attracts tourists who visit nearby Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as well as The Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays.

About 10 years ago, Lord Horatio Nelson’s great-great-great-grandaughter Anna Tribe visited the pub.

Staff took photos of her and an oil painting of her now hangs on one of the walls.

Rose said: ‘It lifted the profile of the pub.

‘There’s not many pubs down this way that are like ours.

‘We have a few locals, but a lot of people come here from out of the city.

‘We also get businessmen, builders and other workers.

Jeanette Warren, 28, who has worked at the pub for 13 years, said she loves every aspect of her job.

‘I really enjoy my job,’ she said. ‘I like the social side of it and the customers we have are pretty regular.

‘It’s like having a second family. When a food order comes out to the kitchen we know whose it is by what they want.’

HARD-WORKING couple Bill and Rose Scott have always been connected to the pub trade.

Bill started his working life as a bottle yard boy for Portsmouth United Breweries at its base in King Street, Southsea.

He was responsible for unloading empty bottles off lorries.

He then went to do the same job at Brickwoods Brewery, in Portsea, Portsmouth, before becoming a drayman – someone who delivered beer to pubs.

He was responsible for getting beer to watering holes across the south coast.

After Brickwoods was taken over by Whitbread, he started doing his job further afield.

It was after the takeover that he met his wife Rose, who was already working for Whitbread.

They went on to run former pub The Portsea Arms, in Bishop Street, Portsea, before settling down at The Lady Hamilton.

The couple have a daughter, Nicola, 26, who is a teacher, and a son, Frankie, 22, who works as a sales representative.

Both used to help out at their parents’ pub.

Rose is originally from Plymouth and Bill grew up in the Portsea area.

Rose said: ‘It’s nice that we work together and that we have our own business.

‘It’s good working for yourself.

Talking about what he makes of his job, Bill said: ‘It still makes a great living.

‘I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

‘This is a traditional pub.

‘It’s nice when you see an old person come in here and you can tell they feel safe.

‘They are not afraid of staying.’