New year will go with a bang at pub which is steeped in history

CHEERS! Kate Preston, landlady of The Wellington pub with bar staff Megan Barrett, left, and Natasha Winsor.  Picture: Steve Reid (114449-402)
CHEERS! Kate Preston, landlady of The Wellington pub with bar staff Megan Barrett, left, and Natasha Winsor. Picture: Steve Reid (114449-402)
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The Wellington is pulling out all the stops in its efforts to see in the New Year with a bang.

Landlady Kate Preston is dishing up a midnight buffet and Portsmouth solo singer Sam Stripes is set to go down a storm with punters heading to the cosy Old Portsmouth local on Saturday night.

Three weeks later customers will dress up in kilts and black ties for the evening as they hear readings by 17th century Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns.

Kate, 40, has been at the helm of the pub for six years.

She leads a team of five chefs, four barmaids and two barmen, which includes her 18-year-old son Jack.

She said: ‘It’s important to use a pub for different functions. As the winter months approach I’m looking at ways I can attract customers.

‘People don’t just want a drink when they come out any more.

‘They want something a bit different.

‘You risk not being able to afford the running costs if you don’t think outside the box.

‘I also strongly believe that this pub is part of the community. It’s important to listen to what people want.

‘I’m also planning a murder mystery party, themed dinner evenings and more live music in the coming months.’

Every Friday afternoon hungry locals get the chance to tuck into a free home-made buffet if they buy two drinks at the bar.

Locals are tested on topics ranging from literature, sport and music to television stars at a quiz night every Tuesday.

The pub, which was formerly known as the Wellington Tavern, is steeped in rich history.

Disused tunnels in the cellars formerly linked up to The Royal Garison Church, in Old Portsmouth, and were used by smugglers.

Kate’s niece Katherine Browning, 24, has been a barmaid at The Wellington for three months after she moved from Canada.

Katherine, who lives above the pub with landlady Kate, said: ‘It’s great working here.

‘It’s a fun environment and it’s nice because a lot of locals come in. They’re a great bunch.

‘We put on some good quiz nights.

‘In November we had a murder mystery party where everyone had to dress up in the style of the 1920s. That was a lot of fun.

‘I love the social aspect of this job. It’s great to meet so many different people.’

She added: ‘It’s interesting working with a family member.

‘Kate and I definitely feed off each other. There’s a lot of humour.’