Love Your Local: The Leopold, Southsea

PINT Stuart Ainsworth, landlord at The Leopold pub in Southsea. Picture: Steve Reid (122860-405)
PINT Stuart Ainsworth, landlord at The Leopold pub in Southsea. Picture: Steve Reid (122860-405)
Yousef Alam 6, Isabella Doyle 6, Halle Wellham 6, George McKechnie 6 and Isabel Manchip 6 with one of the islands they made out of papier mache

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You wouldn’t normally see a time travel machine used by The Doctor in Doctor Who at a pub in Portsmouth.

But Stuart Ainsworth has his very own makeshift version of the Tardis on the roof at the back of his pub – The Leopold Tavern, in Albert Road, Southsea.

The Leopold pub in Southsea.

The Leopold pub in Southsea.

The wooden ‘time capsule’ was snapped up for £150 by Stuart’s brother-in-law Ron Smith, who manages the pub on Stuart’s behalf.

Stuart bought it from Havant carpenter Craig Simpson, who originally built it for his son Jake England, 12, because he is a massive Doctor Who fan.

But after he grew tired of playing with his present Craig decided to put it up for sale on Facebook.

After the deal was made last month, Craig came to the pub and assembled it.

‘I think it’s brilliant. It adds something different to the pub,’ Stuart, 42, said.

‘The locals think it’s quirky and it’s certainly a talking point.’

The pub has bags of character.

There are hundreds of vintage beer pump clips on the walls.

And on the taps there’s a selection of 10 real ales from Portsmouth’s Irving & Co Brewing, Gosport’s Oakleaf Brewing Company and West Sussex’s Dark Star Brewing.

The pub narrowly missed out on this year’s Campaign for Real Ale Portsmouth pub of the year award after it won two years in a row in 2010 and 2011.

Now Mr Ainsworth is hoping his latest bid to attract more customers will help him reclaim the crown next year.

He’s imported 75 bottled ales, bitters and stouts from America, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Germany.

And he has plans to add five extra pumps on the bar for his six real ciders, which are currently stored in boxes.

‘We’re serious about our beer,’ Stuart said.

‘You’ll always get a quality pint here because I make sure the beer is looked after.

‘I spend a lot of my time travelling the country trying to find the best ones.

‘I must also spend around three hours a day looking for new drinks on the internet.

‘When I took charge there were only two working ale pumps. I knew I had to change that.’

He added: ‘‘I’m passionate about my pub and I want to make sure my customers get the very best.’

The pub holds a weekly meat raffle on a Sunday and a quiz on Monday evenings.

Regular Bob Golding, 72, who has drank at the pub for six years, said: ‘Stuart runs a remarkable pub.

‘There’s an endless selection of beer; you’re spoilt for choice. There’s always someone to talk to.’

MEET THE LANDLORD

LIFE at The Leopold is a family affair.

Stuart and his brother-in-law Ron work with Stuart’s daughter Charly Ainsworth, 20, who is a barmaid, and his wife Mandy, 40, who handles the finances.

‘It’s good fun working with your family,’ Stuart said.

‘I tend to be harder on them than the other staff here.

‘But at the same time you put your trust in them. We make a great team.’

Stuart, who grew up in Duncan Road, Southsea, has been the landlord of The Leopold for 10 years.

Previously he worked for Royal Mail Delivery Office, in Slindon Street, Landport, as a delivery driver.

He held the role for 12 years.

But now he’s doing the job he’s always wanted to do.

‘Running my own pub is something I always dreamed about,’ Stuart said.

‘It wasn’t in my family. I just love what pubs are all about. They’re the centre of communities and bring people together. Being a landlord isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle.’

Stuart added: ‘It’s the customers that make this place.

‘You’ll never hear loud music at my pub because I love conversation.

‘This pub is just a proper, old-fashioned local.

‘I get up every morning knowing I love what I do.’