The low prices at The Mars are out of this world, say punters

ALL SMILES Landlady Janice Ward, centre, with, left, her daughter Sharni and barmaid Lia Cole
ALL SMILES Landlady Janice Ward, centre, with, left, her daughter Sharni and barmaid Lia Cole
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THE Mars is a traditional Portsmouth pub, tucked away in the back streets of Landport.

The decor may have changed over the decades, but many faces behind and in front of the bar haven’t.

The pub, in Church Path North, has belonged to the same family, the Garratts, for the past 45 years.

For generations they have been pulling pints for punters all over the city they love.

The family moved there in 1965 and landlady Janice Ward inherited the pub from her mother, Shirley, who died 13 years ago.

Originally named the Olive Branch and owned by the King Brewery, the present pub was built for Brickwoods almost 90 years ago to a traditional style by architect AE Cogswell.

And the regulars like it just the way it is.

Bradley Taylor, a 21-year-old construction worker, from Portsea, visits the pub several times a week.

In February he agreed to have his chest waxed for a fundraising event at the pub in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He said: ‘I’ve been coming here for about four years.

‘I’ve always known about it but I never realised how friendly it was. The customers are really nice.

‘It’s very traditional and the beer is good. I think it’s one of the cheapest pubs in Portsmouth.’

In the past the pub had a reputation for being boisterous but that was in the days when the market stretched all the way along Charlotte Street.

It has always been a favourite with the market traders but now it is a lot quieter.

The clientele is made up of mainly local people, and it is a small pub which has survived while many around it have been turned into flats.

Janice said: ‘We get a good, steady, daytime trade, lots of local customers who have been coming in for years.

‘We have the older generation, in their 80s, who come in with their great-grandchildren. It’s quite a close-knit place to be honest with you.

‘Because we are a free pub and I own it, I can set my own prices. We’re one of the cheapest pubs in Portsmouth.

‘In the past it was very much a pub for the Charlotte Street regulars and the barrow boys could get very, very loud. It’s a lot quieter now. ’

The Mars is one of the only pubs to have ‘off sales’ – a small shop where children can buy soft drinks, crisps and sweets.

And the punters are known for their generosity. Janice’s late father, Les, had a room in St Mary’s Hospital’s lung and heart ward named after him after raising thousands of pounds for the department.