Hard-working owners bring The Blue Anchor back up from the deep

The Blue Anchor on London Road North End run by Operations Manager Richard Osbourne (23) ''Regulars (left to right) Colin Bargent (67), Allan Stones (60), and David Davies (59)''Picture: Malcolm Wells (13580-1867)
The Blue Anchor on London Road North End run by Operations Manager Richard Osbourne (23) ''Regulars (left to right) Colin Bargent (67), Allan Stones (60), and David Davies (59)''Picture: Malcolm Wells (13580-1867)

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It’s a pub that stood empty for two years.

Now The Blue Anchor, in North End, Portsmouth, has been brought back to life and given a major overhaul.

In the time it was closed, new owners were brought in and they decided to halve the size of the place to make it feel more cosy.

LYL BLUE ANCHOR (MOL) MRW  27/2/2013 ''The Blue Anchor on London Road North End run by Operations Manager Richard Osbourne (23) ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (13580-1845)

LYL BLUE ANCHOR (MOL) MRW 27/2/2013 ''The Blue Anchor on London Road North End run by Operations Manager Richard Osbourne (23) ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (13580-1845)

A new cellar, lights, heating and electrics were fitted to bring the venue in London Road up to scratch.

The pool table area has also gone and an emphasis is being placed on making families more welcome.

The other half of the pub has been leased out to Papa John’s Pizza.

Dennis Kent, 50, who owns The Blue Anchor on behalf of its freeholder Chris Hunt, 35, reopened the doors last month and said he was proud of how far things had come.

‘We’ve had a lot of new customers and we’ve been taken aback by the public’s response,’ he said.

‘Everyone is talking about this pub. They say it looks beautiful now and it’s what they’ve been looking for.

‘It looks and feels different to other pubs in Portsmouth.

‘We wanted it to feel like someone’s living room rather than an empty pub.

‘Our focus is on welcoming families and older people.

‘We’ve already got a massive following on Facebook so things are looking good.’

The Blue Anchor was rebuilt in the 1940s to replace a hotel that was bombed during the Second World War.

The premises originally consisted of one large room, which was divided into two main areas, with pool being the main form of entertainment.

The next step is the redevelopment of the outdoor area into a garden with a children’s play area and a space where music and barbecues can be held.

Dennis also plans to hold a weekend of live music in the warmer months which will raise money for local charities.

There are two real ales on tap in the form of Irving and Company Brewers’ Type 42 and The Oakleaf Brewing Company’s Heart of Gold.

The pub wants to stock more beer produced by both breweries, which are based in Portsmouth and Gosport, and will install more hand pumps soon.

There are three full-time and four part-time staff.

Food will be served once a new kitchen starts running at the weekend.

Bar manager Richard Osbourne said: ‘I’m really excited that we’ve opened now. We’re making it a local pub and want to bring in a nice mixture of people.

‘We’ve created a warm pub where people can come to relax in a friendly environment.’

SOME people would feel nervous about the prospect of running a pub which had been shut for a while.

But veteran landlord Dennis Kent isn’t fazed by the pressure of working at The Blue Anchor because he has been working in the pub industry for 20 years.

Over the years Dennis has been at the helm of bars in his home county Hertfordshire as well as The Florist, in Fratton Road, Fratton, The Royal, in Commercial Road, Landport and The Victory, at The Hard, Portsea.

‘I’d like to think I’m pretty good at running a pub,’ Dennis said.

‘This industry is my life.

‘It’s definitely more than just a job.

‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far.

‘I love socialising with the customers, it helps to keep me young.

‘I’ve got an extremely good team around me.

‘We run a tight ship and we’re strict about who we let in and employ.

‘I can’t ever see myself retiring from the pub game, I would get too bored.

‘I plan to stay here for the foreseeable future.’

Chris Hunt has owned the freehold of The Blue Anchor for about 18 months.

Chris, of London, who also owns The Royal and The Florist, said: ‘I am very pleased with how things have been going.

‘I wanted to buy The Blue Anchor because I saw that it had great potential.

‘It’s good to keep things running as a pub if they were being done so originally.

‘Portsmouth had so many pubs years ago, but unfortunately the numbers have dwindled and dwindled.’