Southsea pub ‘drunk dry’ as landlords say goodbye

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AN AWARD-winning pub was drunk dry the day before it was due to close.

Crowds of people flocked to The Leopold Tavern in Southsea on Saturday night just days after bosses at the pub announced they would be shutting up shop.

Landlord Stuart Ainsworth revealed last week they would be moving on from the venue and invited people to have a last drink yesterday afternoon.

But lovers of the Albert Road boozer went along on Saturday and drank so much, the pub closed that night.

A post written on their Facebook page on Saturday said: ‘WOW! What can we say.

‘You lovely people have nearly drunk us dry!

‘Unfortunately this means that we will be closing tonight. We would like to thank you all for the unbelievable support.’

It added: ‘With a tear in our eye we bid you farewell.’

Mr Ainsworth, who has been running The Leopold for 14 years, said they made the difficult decision to surrender the lease after owners Ei Group plc – formerly Enterprise Inns – which they say had raised the site’s rent to ‘ridiculous’ levels.

Only last week, the Southsea venue was crowned the best pub in the region by the Portsmouth and south-east branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

People in the city took to social media to show their support for The Leopold.

Wal Provart posted: ‘End of an era. Some great times in the Leopold. Awesome beer, awesome people. Thanks for the good times.’

Dave Wiseman said: ‘So so sad, such a great pub,’ while Zak Kirby added: ‘Good luck everyone, was a great pub.’

Helen Louise said: ‘Glad you’ve been done proud! No greater testament to a pub than being drunk dry’, with Simon Barrett calling it ‘the best pub in Pompey.’

A spokesman from Ei Group plc said: ‘We’re meeting our publican at The Leopold Tavern this week to discuss his current situation in greater detail.

‘We hope to agree a mutually acceptable and positive solution for the future as soon as possible.’