When landlord Ray Shaw approached the end of his lease at The Battle of Minden, he knew it would be hard to leave.
So he asked the pub’s owner Kipcroft Properties Limited if he could stay on for an extra 18 months.
But he was left over the moon when the property firm told him he could remain at the helm of the pub, in St Mary’s Road, Kingston, for another 10 years.
The deal was struck two years ago – and now Ray, 63, is celebrating his 20th year behind the bar of his beloved pub.
Ray, who is originally from Sunderland, says the key to his longevity in the job is his legion of loyal regulars.
‘In a nutshell, they are brilliant,’ he said.
They are the ones that keep me here.
‘When I first started here I knew I had a 20-year lease agreement. But when it was nearing the end of that contract I thought to myself, “there is no way I can go”.
‘The owner was looking to turn the pub into a block of flats.
‘But because of the recession it wasn’t sure about doing that. The firm saw how well I was doing and said I could carry on. In 10 years I’ll be 73, and if it lets me carry on after that I’ll stay here until my final days.
‘I’m over the moon by the decision.
Ray will join his four barmaids and scores of regulars in the pub tonight as they celebrate his anniversary.
A disco will be held inside the bar and customers will get to have a go at singing a few numbers.
‘What makes it even better here is I’m not owned by a brewery, which means I can choose to sell whichever beers I like,’ said Ray.
‘The pub is just an old-fashioned boozer with bags of character. It’s not one of the many chain pubs that are out there now.’
The pub was built in 1946 to replace the former Battle of Minden pub on the site which was bombed during the Second World War.
It remains as the only one of five pubs that once traded on St Mary’s Road.
The pub is also reputedly the only one in the country to bear its name, which derives from a battle fought during the Seven Years War between 1756 and 1763.
The conflict saw the Anglo-German alliance defeating a French army commanded by Marshal of France Louis Georges Erasme de Contades.
The pub is looking to hold a number of children’s parties, discos and barbecues this summer.
If it’s someone’s birthday then Mr Shaw makes sure that they are treated to a big celebration.
And a charity box in aid of Portsmouth Association for the Blind is kept on the bar so people can make donations from their bar change.
Meet the landlord
LANDLORD Ray Shaw served as a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy prior to beginning life in the pub trade.
After 24 years in the service he didn’t fancy the idea of going into a nine-to-five office job.
So he took over The Royal pub, in Commercial Road, Landport, where he remained for three years.
He saw that trade was beginning to dwindle so he jumped ship to The Battle of Minden, and took over from his friend Kenny Mulvihill, who he knew during his time in the Navy.
Mr Shaw also did his training as a pub landlord behind the bar of The Battle of Minden towards the end of his previous career.
‘I was instantly attracted to the place,’ Mr Shaw said.
‘It had a good customer base and I knew I would be able to maintain that.
‘I’ve never looked back. I’ve had some memorable moments here.’