Portsmouth Invincible pub set to reopen tomorrow - despite fears it could have been demolished

New management team at the Invincible pub Mike Kearns with Amber Cotton-Briggs. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (180607-2795)
New management team at the Invincible pub Mike Kearns with Amber Cotton-Briggs. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (180607-2795)
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THE Invincible pub in Portsea is fighting to live up to its name by re-opening today amid fears it could be demolished.

On Monday The News reported the closure of the pub on Wickham Street that came after an application for a 12-storey block of bedsits on its site that was submitted to Portsmouth City Council.

But the pub’s owner, Ei Group, has reconsidered and given a young couple the opportunity to revive the Invincible as new management staff.

Liverpool-born Michael Kearns, 24, will be taking on the challenge alongside girlfriend Amber Cotton-Briggs, 22. They previously managed the Slipway in Southampton together.

Michael explained the events of the past week. He said: ‘The company decided to re-open the premises. It was a real last-minute decision, this week has been a whirlwind.’

Although the application, which was branded ‘ludicrous’ by council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, was submitted in May it is likely the plans will take a long time to come to fruition.

Michael said: ‘As management I am not sure how much influence we would have on the final decision. With pubs closing down left, right and centre we are aware that this could be a temporary business.

‘We have had a lot of people stopping us in the street to say they thought the pub was being knocked down and they were quite excited when we said that wasn’t the case at the moment.

‘We are reopening the kitchen and our experienced head chef will be launching the menu next week. The vibe we want to create for the pub is one that locals can enjoy. We are going to bring the pool table and fruit machine back.’

Pub Solutions currently leases the Invincible from Ei Group, the largest pub company in the UK.

One of the directors of Pub Solutions, Ian Brierly, said: ‘I am aware of the application, as are the Ei Group. They believe that nothing will be decided until at least the end of October.

‘I would be pleased if we were there for another 10 years or so. But for now the pub will probably be open for at least another year.’

Leslie Cornford, who now lives in Weston-super-Mare, has fond memories of the Invincible. The 70-year-old said: ‘My brother-in-law, Len Appleton, had the pub a few years back, in the late 80s and 90s. It was a great pub and it would be a shame to see it go.

‘I’m glad to hear that it will re-open and I’m sure a lot of serving and ex-service navy guys will be too. I wish the new managers the best of luck.’