It has been a much-loved city watering hole for 160 years, first opening its doors at a time when Portsmouth’s favourite son Charles Dickens was embarking on a professional tour giving readings from his celebrated works.
But tomorrow The Royal Marine Artillery Tavern in Eastney will serve its last pint. History counts for nothing when the landlord says the pub simply can’t pay its way.
It’s so sad to see yet another part of the city’s social fabric disappearing. Last year fellow Southsea pub The Leopold Tavern closed days after being voted the city’s best boozer.
The problem is there can be no sentiment in business. The figures have to add up or people simply can’t make a living.
We really feel for RMA Tavern landlord Kevin Smith, who has been running the place for 12 years and doesn’t want to close down. But he has to be a realist.
‘The golden age of pubs has gone,’ he said.
The difficulties of the licensed trade have been well-documented. As Portsmouth City Council’s culture chief Linda Symes reminds us: ‘They just can’t compete with supermarkets undercutting them and greedy breweries.’
But as the RMA Tavern calls time for the last time and developers eye the building to turn it into flats, we have to be concerned that places that were once hubs of our communities are going for good.
The old adage that you use it or lose it holds true. People who want pubs to survive have to give them their custom.
Each week in The News our Love Your Local page highlights all that is good about local community pubs.
But we urge you to support them and councils and the government to adopt policies that help to protect them.
Because if that doesn’t happen, they will keep on closing their doors.