Landlords of “proper old fashioned backstreet boozer” in Portsmouth “gutted” having called time after 24 years
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The couple had been locked in discussions with pub owner Admiral Taverns over a new lease but were unable to reach an agreement. It led to the two stalwarts deciding they had no choice but to sever ties with the pub in what they described as a “life-changing” decision.
The pub is popular with locals, who said they were “sad” and “gutted” to see the landlords leave the “proper Pompey pub”. Admiral Tavern is now on the lookout for new landlords to take over.
The Apsley House regularly features among the best pubs in Portsmouth according to reviews and guides. On its Facebook page the pub is described as a “proper old fashioned backstreet boozer”.
Landlords Paul and Claire told The News: “We’ve been going through a lease renewal and we can’t find any middle ground with the pub company. We feel that after 24 years in the current climate it's not financially viable to carry on running the pub under the current terms.
“We’re gutted, it’s life changing. It’s really upsetting because it’s not just a pub where we serve people, it's like a family. Customers have been coming here for years and enjoy themselves.
“It’s a proper pub but unfortunately proper pubs are not financially viable to the pub company.” Speaking of their plans for the future, the couple said “who knows”.
A spokesperson for Admiral Taverns said: "At Admiral we are strong believers in the importance of community pubs and our focus is always on helping our licensees to run sustainable pub businesses however, there are inevitably instances where we have to part ways with licensees.
“We'd like to thank Paul and Claire for all their hard work over the last 24 years and we wish them the very best of luck for the future. We are currently looking to recruit a passionate new licensee to take over the Apsley House to ensure it can continue to sit at the heart of the community."
The announcement left punters saddened on social media. One person said: “Such sad news. I have fond memories of the Apsley stretching back to the 1970s but I have particularly enjoyed more recent times with your warm hospitality.”
Another wrote: “One of the last decent pubs in Southsea. Sad times. Sorry to hear your news.”
A third posted: “Gutted, proper Pompey pub.” A fourth added: “Sorry to hear that you will be greatly missed, see you at the weekend.”
The 1960s pub, a former Victorian girls' school, has been at the centre of ghost tales over the years after an apparent face of a former barman appeared in a photo. Landlord Paul Wicks said in 2012 they nicknamed their ghostly regular Reedy - after actor and legendary drinker Oliver Reed.
Paul said at the time: “People say they have seen the ghost at the bar and that they feel things - cold spots, things like that. I am a sceptic but can't see any rhyme or reason for what’s in that photo.”