Shock as historic Portsmouth pub to close for good tomorrow

ONE of the city's oldest, most established pubs will shut its doors to punters forever on Tuesday.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 10:54 pm
Updated Monday, 5th March 2018, 5:14 am
The Royal Marine Artillery Tavern, Cromwell Road, Eastney will shut on Tuesday. Picture: Allan Hutchings (124188-968)

The Royal Marine Artillery Tavern, in Eastney made the shock announcement today that it will be closing.

It comes in the year the Cromwell Road boozer would have marked its 160th anniversary in Portsmouth.

Landlord Kevin Smith has run the venue for 12 years and was gutted he had to shut the tavern up for good.

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‘It’s a massive shame,’ he told The News tonight. ‘I have known this could happen for quite a while but didn’t realise it would come about this quickly.

‘The regulars can’t believe it. I have people who have had their 50th or 60th birthday parties here and family wakes who are just devastated.

‘I had one local at the bar who was half in tears. It’s really sad.’

The news has rocked Portsmouth City Council’s culture chief, Councillor Linda Symes, who said the pub’s closure would be a great loss to the island.

She said: ‘This is a tremendous shame. Pubs were the centre of the community for a long time and now they’re not.

‘They just can’t compete with supermarkets under-cutting them and greedy breweries.’

Mr Smith said the pub’s last service would be on Tuesday evening.

He will look to leave the boozer soon after and had warned residents that it could be turned into flats by developers.

The landlord added that supermarket prices for booze and a lack of support from central government towards propping up the nation’s flagging pub trade, ultimately led to him having to shut up shop.

Hitting at the major national retailers, he said: ‘They’re selling litre bottles of vodka so cheaply now. If I served someone half a pint of vodka, they drank it and died, it would be manslaughter.

‘But someone can go into shop and buy six litres of vodka, sit in their door and drink and die and there’s nothing.’

The publican praised all his regulars, past and present, for their support throughout the years.

He added this was another nail in the coffin of the city’s pub trade.

‘The golden age of pubs has gone,’ he said. ‘What’s happening to the pub trade is very sad. We used to have 799 pubs in Portsmouth before the Second World War and 701 after it. Now there are just a few left in the city.’

The tavern is the latest city pub to close. Last year the award-winning Southsea pub The Leopold Tavern closed just days after being the city’s best boozer