What is the best pub in Portsmouth? Everyone has their favourite, but two friends can speak with authority – having reviewed 173 pubs across Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham, and Gosport.
Richard Sheath and Jes Mansbridge, who both work for Southern Electric, began their challenge to review every pub in the area by visiting The Jolly Sailor on Tuesday, May 3, 2016.
The pair have been thorough in their appraisals – with Jes taking a photograph of every pub carpet the pair have set foot on.
Now the friend are finishing a book, titled Is This A Pub? which Richard hopes will provide a record of how ‘life is changing’ around Portsmouth.
Richard said: ‘We have been going out to pubs for years as mates.
‘We realised many older traditional pubs are disappearing – we are losing something very valuable.
‘We have lost The Pickwick, The Brewers Arms, The Invincible, and The RMA since we started out, demonstrating how the traditional pub is in decline still.’
The 50-year-old said the experience of visiting so many pubs has left him worried that Portsmouth has ‘lost its identity’ as established drinking spots disappear.
He said: ‘Portsmouth has lost its way.
‘Look at Bristol – they have a lively microbrewery scene.
‘Albert Road has nowhere near what Bristol has.’
There is hope the ‘resurgent’ microbrewery scene in the city will change the pub scene, according to Richard, with the pair visiting more and more over the years.
He said: ‘We have seen a growth in microbreweries.
‘We were talking to the Urban Island Brewery – the guy and his wife who run it – and it was nice to see it is a family concern.
‘They are doing it because they are passionate about it.’
Having watched his uncle manage two pubs – The Kingfisher and The Fox, both demolished in the 1970s – Richard believes the key to a good pub is family, tradition, and community.
He said: ‘Don’t show me a museum, show me a pub.’
And his personal favourite?
The Pembroke, in Pembroke Road.
Richard said: ‘For me it reflects the changing culture – it has a little bit of the new and a little bit of the old.’