Twists and turns of pub life in ever-changing Portsmouth

The Mile End Cellars tucked in behind Pratt's the potato merchant shortly before demolition in 1976
The Mile End Cellars tucked in behind Pratt's the potato merchant shortly before demolition in 1976

THIS WEEK IN 1996: Police send pubs pictures of thugs

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Blink and you miss it.

It seems like only yesterday that the popular Mile End Cellars pub was trading just a few doors down from Charles Dickens’s birthplace.

Looking south down Old Commercial Road towards the city centre. The Mile End Cellars was on the right, close to the rubble roadblock. Also taken in 1975.

Looking south down Old Commercial Road towards the city centre. The Mile End Cellars was on the right, close to the rubble roadblock. Also taken in 1975.

But as Philip Pyke’s trio of pictures reminds us, it is 39 years since it disappeared and quickly became part of the new Oliver Twist pub. That too has gone.

For those who cannot quite place it, we are in Old Commercial Road, Landport – part of the old Mile End quarter of Portsmouth.

His pictures were taken in 1976 and in the photo on the right the Cellars nestles immediately behind BF Pratt, Wholesale Fruit and Potato Merchants.

Philip says: ‘The Cellars was so popular the owners decided to expand and bought the BF Pratt building next door.

Here Philip Pyke has turned 180 degrees to capture Charles Dickens's birthplace, again in 1976.

Here Philip Pyke has turned 180 degrees to capture Charles Dickens's birthplace, again in 1976.

‘During conversion the party wall between the two properties proved so unstable the builders pulled the whole lot down and built a new pub called the Oliver Twist, much to the consternation of the city council which had not given permission.’

The Cellars was a Gale’s pub, but when it became part of the Oliver Twist that hostelry was owned by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries – a rarity in Portsmouth.

According to portsmouthpubs.org ‘despite standing in a conservation area, it became another victim of its inner city location and [it] closed around the turn of the 21st century and was sold unlicensed’. It now houses offices.