The Ship and Castle prides itself on being haven for tourists

FAMILY AFFAIR Sean, left, and his dad Steve Fitzgerald, the landlord of the Ship & Castle public house at Rudmore
FAMILY AFFAIR Sean, left, and his dad Steve Fitzgerald, the landlord of the Ship & Castle public house at Rudmore
From left, Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon sign the formal application for a Solent Combined Authority in 2016

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Many pubs have a group of regulars they can rely on to keep trade steady.

But The Ship and Castle, in Rudmore Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth, attracts a new crowd most days because it’s only a two-minute drive from Portsmouth International Port.

The Fuller’s-owned boozer attracts families who are going abroad.

Local office workers and ferry port staff also stop by on their breaks for a bite to eat and a drink.

It is one of only a few pubs in Portsmouth to hold a 24-hour alcohol licence.

Landlord Steven Fitzgerald, 57, has been in charge for seven years.

His son Sean, 29, helps out and there are two barmaids.

Steven said: ‘This pub is unique and different in that it’s the only pub left in the area.

‘A lot of my trade is to do with the ferry terminal.

‘We get a lot of people who are on their way to places like Jersey, Guernsey and France.

‘They come for something to eat and drink before leaving and catching their ferry.

‘I don’t get local trade as such.

‘The local office workers come over though and some of the ferry port staff visit on their lunch break.

‘This is only a very, very small pub.

‘It’s like a large four-bedroom house.

‘The amount of different people you see is unbelievable.

‘You get people from Scotland and Wales and then all the way down to Norfolk.

‘Visitors also come from places like America.’

The pub is full of armed forces memorabilia.

One of the walls contains pictures of aircraft and on another there are images of ships including HMS London and HMS Edinburgh.

Some of the collection was already at the pub when Steven arrived and he’s added to it since.

There’s also a picture of the pub dating back to 1913.

There’s a billiards table and a darts board and food 
is served from noon until 2.30pm and then from 5pm until 9pm.

Three real ales are served; Seafarers, London Pride and HSB.

The pub also does its fair share for worthy causes.

It’s got collection tins for Help for Heroes, the RNLI and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Sean, who has been working on and off at the pub for two years, said: ‘It’s not your normal high-street pub.

‘It’s more like a holiday-makers pub.

‘Everyone likes the food and drink and the pictures on the walls.’

MOST of Steven Fitzgerald’s experience with customers came from his time working in nightclubs.

He started out as a cloakroom attendant at a venue in Southampton in 1975 before rising through the ranks.

He then became a general manager of a nightclub and continued working in the industry until 2000.

During that time he also decided to try things out at a pub called The J W Greens, in Twyford, Reading, from 1986 until 1988.

After leaving the nightclub scene he decided to work at White Horse, in Reading, before doing some work as an engineer.

He then decided to give the pub trade another go and went to the former Wheatsheaf pub, in Gosport.

He then found his feet at The Ship and Castle.

Steven, who is originally from Southampton, said he felt things had gone smoothly since taking up his current role.

‘I have been here for so long now that it feels like my home and a business,’ he said.

‘Some of the local lads that come in I have known for a long time.

‘There are some people who live in France that I end up seeing once a month because they pop over to see family and friends.

‘I’ve watched families grow up here.

‘No day is the same at The Ship and Castle.

‘The next 12 months will be just about improving what we already do.

‘We can’t do anything drastic because we’re a small pub.’

The pub holds parties for French students aged 14 to 16 who come over to visit.

A buffet is served.