Love Your Local: The Jolly Miller, Fareham

ON SONG Landlord John Machin plays one of his guitars inside The Jolly Miller. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122556-1)
ON SONG Landlord John Machin plays one of his guitars inside The Jolly Miller. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122556-1)
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It used to be a tired-looking pub with old-fashioned pictures and smoke stained ceilings.

Then John Machin took charge of The Jolly Miller, in Miller Drive, Fareham, and gave the place a rocking new look.

Over the course of 18 months the landlord cleaned the place up and transformed it into a haven for vintage music and movie lovers.

Shrines to The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, The Rat Pack, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Rod Stewart were made in different areas of the pub.

Vintage Hard Rock cafe badges were attached to guitar straps and hung on the walls and John’s collection of 13 guitars – made up of electrics, acoustics, banjos and ukuleles – were also put up.

John, 62, who has run the pub with his wife Debbie for four years, wanted to give his boozer a ‘hard rock’ theme because he is passionate about music.

‘When I arrived the place was full of horse and cart pictures and the ceilings were covered with smoke stains,’ he said.

‘It must have taken at least 13 gallons of paint to get it all off.

‘It took about 18 months to get the pub looking the way I wanted it.

‘It was definitely inspired by my love of music. I also play the guitar.

‘Most of the memorabilia are things I’ve collected over the years and I wanted them to be a part of the pub.

‘The only thing I couldn’t afford to replace were the windows, but I’ve put flowers and hanging baskets around the outside to make it look more attractive.’

As part of the work a covered area in the garden was built so barbecues could be held.

Now John is celebrating all his hard work as the pub celebrates its 40th year in business.

A quiet celebration was held with regulars on Tuesday.

‘It’s amazing because I remember when the pub was built,’ he said.

‘I used to be a regular myself.

‘Everyone who uses this pub tells me that there isn’t another one quite like it.

‘They love all the memorabilia.

‘When you walk through the doors you instantly notice the atmosphere. It’s great.

‘The locals know how hard it is to run a pub these days so they really appreciate what we do here.’

The pub also does its fair share for charity.

More than £80 was raised for armed forces charity Help for Heroes when local bands took to a stage and a barbecue was dished up during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend.

Meet the landlord

LANDLORD John Michan says he and his wife Debbie have the perfect working relationship.

‘She is my diamond,’ John said.

‘We make a great team. Whereas I do everything from the cleaning to sorting out the cellar and the garden, Debbie is front of house.

‘She is the best. I’m extremely lucky to have her.’

John doesn’t have a history of working in the pub industry.

When he left his former job as a project manager at international service company Serco in 2004 he decided to take some time out.

It was during this time that Debbie encouraged him to try out something new.

So he took over the keys of The Jolly Miller and has not looked back since.

John also worked at electrical firm GEC Marconi – now Marconi Electronic Systems – between 1973 and 1989.

‘Fortunately I have always enjoyed working. I have never woken up in the morning and thought: “I really don’t want to get out of bed today.”

‘I thought working in the pub trade would be a great job because it has the same level of intensity and pressure that my other jobs had.

‘It’s not easy and the hours are long. I don’t make any money from doing this. It’s what you get out of it that matters.’

John and Debbie also employ a team of five barmaids that help them with the day-to-day running.

And there are activities which take place every day of the week.

Darts, pool, cards, bingo, and fancy dress evenings are held Monday to Friday and a music lyric quiz and live music nights happen at the weekend.