It was a run-down pub that had been left empty for three months.
Now The Victory, on The Hard in Portsea, Portsmouth, is back on its feet again thanks to fresh-faced landlord Richard Jones.
The 24-year-old – one of Portsmouth’s youngest publicans – has spent thousands of pounds of his own money giving the community pub a makeover.
And any uncertainty about it closing again can be put to bed, because Richard has taken over the lease for the next 10 years.
It’s been given a fresh coat of paint inside and out and plans are in place to fit a new kitchen, so food can be served.
The doors were reopened to the public two weeks ago – and while places in a similar boat would start off slowly, business at The Victory has taken off.
Richard said: ‘The whole pub has been repainted and it’s more warm and welcoming for the customers.
‘Word has got around now in the Portsmouth area that we are back open, and I have been overwhelmed with how busy we’ve been.
‘We have had lots of support from our regulars, they are really happy.
‘They think the refurbishment is lovely.’
The focus now is to build on getting a mix of pubgoers through the doors and capitalise on being close to popular attractions like Gunwharf Quays, the Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
‘This is everyone’s pub,’ Richard said.
‘We want a mix of Gunwharf shoppers and tourists and build on the set of regulars we already have.
‘This is a traditional pub with modern features.’
The Victory, which was built in 1976, was originally owned by Whitbread and was purchased by Ushers Brewery in the mid-1990s.
The freeholder is now London businessman Chris Hunt, who also owns other pubs across Portsmouth.
Richard is proud of the pub’s history and naval connections – so he’s putting up more information on the walls for visitors who are interested.
There’s good news for beer lovers – the pub is free of any beer ties, which means Richard can sell what he wants.
And while real ale isn’t served at the moment, it’s due to be introduced in the next few days. Links will be made with Irving & Co Brewery, in Drayton, Portsmouth, and The Oakleaf Brewing Company, in Gosport. Charity events will be held later in the year.
‘A pub is an important part of the community,’ Richard said.
HE has a young head on his shoulders, but Richard Jones knows what it takes to run a pub.
He was previously the operations manager at The Blue Anchor in North End, Portsmouth – which reopened early last year following a refurbishment – before stepping down four months ago.
Richard was also a petty officer in the Royal Navy for two years, serving onboard HMS Invincible before leaving the services due to injury.
He decided then to pursue his love of pubs and get into the trade.
Richard said it didn’t matter that he was young – because he grew up in the trade and knows people who are involved.
‘I have a mature and positive outlook on things which enables me to do the job,’ he said.
‘I felt I had the passion to do this.
‘I have a lot of friends and family who are in the pub trade as well.
‘I started doing small roles in a pub from a young age and I worked my way up.
‘I have got a 10-year lease on the property.
‘If I didn’t think I could see myself being in this for the long term, I wouldn’t be doing this.’
Richard grew up in London and did his GCSEs in the capital before moving to Portsmouth when he was 16.
Talking about his love for the city, Richard said: ‘I like the mix of heritage and tradition.
‘You have got the heritage of The Hard and there is the naval side of things and Gunwharf as well.
‘It’s getting busier and busier at the pub.’
Karaoke is held every Sunday from 2pm until 6pm.