Love Your Local: The Old Vic

Landlady Roisin Kehoe-Pank behind the bar at The Old Vic.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131245-3417)
Landlady Roisin Kehoe-Pank behind the bar at The Old Vic.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131245-3417)
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On first impressions The Old Vic looks like it caters for an old fashioned crowd.

On first impressions The Old Vic looks like it caters for an old fashioned crowd.

The Grade II listed building, in St Paul’s Road, Southsea, has plenty of original features such as Tudor-style timber beams.

But behind all the vintage touches is a team that has a modern approach.

They hold food-themed, cabaret and karaoke nights and the University of Portsmouth Big Band regularly performs.

The University of Portsmouth Rugby Football Club also stop by for a drink and sing songs on Wednesdays.

There’s an upstairs function room which is hired out for weddings.

And last year the pub held its first christening and a church font was brought in for it.

Roisin Kehoe-Pank has been the pub’s landlady for 15 years.

She said: ‘As much as I have kept the old, traditional features there is definitely a modern feel to the pub.

‘There aren’t many pubs like this one around any more.

‘We don’t want to go down the route of plastic-looking pubs.

‘This is a community pub that everyone is welcome in.

‘I don’t have door staff because we have a good reputation with the council and the police.

‘I don’t have trouble here.

‘People feel welcome and safe.

‘Pubs should be a safe place.’

The pub, which was built in 1900, regularly supports The Rowans Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.

There are plans to hold a street party for The Rowans in the near future.

‘There are a lot of charities which get many from television appeals but it’s also important that we support the people of Portsmouth,’ said Roisin.

‘We need to help everyone around here because everyone in some way or another has been affected by things like cancer. It’s all about raising awareness.’

Barbecues are held during the summer and there’s live music each Friday.

Barman Kyle Major, 20, who lives in Baffins, Portsmouth, said he loved every aspect of his job.

He’s one of three full-time staff and there’s part-time workers for when it gets busy.

‘Portsmouth has lost a lot of pubs over the years but it’s nice that we’re still here and still have our original features,’ he said.

‘There’s a nice, friendly atmosphere here.

‘We get our regulars and we don’t get any trouble.

‘It’s chilled and relaxed.

‘We have cabarets and we do a great Sunday roast.’

Hard-working landlady Roisin Kehoe-Pank loves her pub.

She says it’s the reason why she’s remained in charge after 15 years.

She previously worked in the beauty industry in Toronto, Canada.

And before that she was based in Malta, Singapore and Ireland because her father Peter Kehoe worked as a Petty Officer for the Royal Navy.

She came back to Portsmouth, where she was born, in 1981.

‘Living and working in England is very different and it took some time to get used to it,’ she said.

‘Though I had some great times before, like when I worked in the beauty industry, you see and do a lot in this trade.

‘It’s my love for this pub and the camaraderie that keeps me here.

‘I love it very much – it’s something you can’t put into words.’

Talking about how the pub industry has changed since she started, she said: ‘It’s slowed down a lot.

‘We have lost businesses around us.

‘The smoking ban and supermarkets have affected us and people are coming out later in the evenings.

‘If you don’t use your local pub, you’ll end up losing them.

‘More pubs are going to close and if we don’t do something about it then we’ll just end up with chain pubs and no more community ones.

Roisin said she hopes pubs will be thrown a lifeline.

‘I would like to think that in the next 12 months the government will make things easier for us,’ she said.

‘I don’t want any more pubs to close.’