66-70 Fratton Road, Fratton
Built in 1901 to replace a previous pub of the same name (formally the Brickmaker’s Arms) the Magpie was a typical traditional Portsmouth local. Once part of the Friary Meux pub chain, it received a major refurbishment in 1989, though began to fall into decline by the turn of the century. The pub spent a number of years during the ’90s under the ownership of Gibbs Mew before being sold to Punch Taverns.
The Magpie received another refurbishment in 2007 in an effort to increase its trade and make the pub more welcoming. However, by the end of the year it had closed its doors and in June 2008 a planning application was submitted to convert the pub into nine apartments.
Photographs, left to right: 4th February 2007; March 1998 (by Ray Scarfe); 19th February 1990.
The Market House Tavern
472 Mile End Road (formerly 472 Commercial Road), Mile End
This Grade II listed building stands on a busy dual-carriageway and retained its name for well over 150 years. Originally part of the Pike Spicer Brewery’s estate, the pub later transferred to Brickwood’s and was latterly run by private operators Pubfolio. Now isolated and dwarfed by the horrendous blocks of flats that overlook Mile End Road, the pub stood on a street corner until the early 1970s, on what was once Commercial Road (see bottom right-hand photograph).
Under its new ownership the Market House Tavern enjoyed a brief renaissance in the 1990s after previously being allowed to become rundown and neglected by former owner Whitbread. Bed & breakfast accommodation was available, though this was very basic and often afforded poor reviews from customers on internet websites. The single bar room was a mix of traditional seating and leather armchairs. A pool table could be found to the rear. Despite another refurbishment in the spring of 2007, the interior was somewhat lacking in intimacy and could well have done with additional decoration to make the place feel more homely. Its former interior was far more pleasant that the latter one.
The pub became the subject of many planning applications throughout the years leading up to its closure – one of which was to convert the building into a veterinary surgery. A large hotel was also mooted for the site. These all failed, almost certainly due to the pub’s listed status. By early 2013 the pub had closed, with its fascia signage having been removed. It was later refurbished and reopened as a twelve roomed hotel by the name of Ferry House Lodge.
Colour photographs, left to right: 6th August 2005 (x2); March 1999 (by Ray Scarfe); 14th August 1988.
The Marmion Tavern
27 Marmion Road, Southsea
Not to be confused with the present Marmion Tavern, which is located a short distance to the west, this former pub stands on the corner of Marmion Road and Wilton Place. In 1887 the house changed its name to the Marmion Hotel and closed for business as long ago the 1937 when its licence was transferred to another pub. The premises became a drapery store in the 1940s and reopened as a record shop in 1971. Today it houses Roux jewellers.
Photographed 15th July 2007.
227 Commercial Road, Landport
Trading as the Suffolk Arms until 1948, this pub acquired its unusual name in tribute to former licensee Martha Kingsbury (d. 1914). The pub had a chequered history and once housed a brothel during the 1930s. Major building works last took place in 1957 and many interior refurbishments followed. Until the late 1980s the pub was popular with the Royal Navy, but Martha’s since became known primarily as one of Portsmouth’s most popular gay bars. Discos were held at weekends and the venue was often busy. However, the premises gained a somewhat dubious reputation in its latter years, and with the announcement of major city centre redevelopment work planned to take place in the early 21st century, the pub’s days were numbered.
The aforementioned redevelopment was later put on hold due to the poor economic climate, but the end of the line came for Martha’s in June 2011, when the pub closed permanantly. As of February 2017 the building still stands, albeit in rather poor condition.
Photographs, left to right: 4th February 2007; unknown date (by Ray Scarfe); 28th April 1991.
295/297 Highland Road, Eastney
The Mayflower retained its identity since Victorian times and was designed in a cottage style by renowned architect T E Owen, who was responsible for the layout of much of Southsea’s ornate regency terraces. The pub consisted of a large public bar and a smaller lounge and it spent some time during the 1990s in a guise similar to a Hogshead Ale House (branded as a Beer Engine pub on the inn sign). Owned by both Long’s and Brickwood’s breweries over the years, it later ended up part of the Whitbread portfolio.
Sadly, in 2007 the Mayflower was purchased by property company Velder Developments who swiftly closed the pub in November of that year and submitted a planning application to build nine town houses on the site.
This was swiftly denied by the city planners. However, whilst the results of a planning appeal were awaited, demolition of the property began on April 14th 2008 – a shocking act of vandalism which should showed blatent disregard for architectural heritage and contravened accepted practices.
The left-hand photograph depicts the pub as it was being boarded up in late November 2007. Six months later the building was in a very sorry state, as seen in the second image, taken days before its controversial demolition.
Photographs, left to right: 24th November 2007 (by Rob Hall); 11th April 2008 (by Rob Hall); 30th September 2006; 11th May 1989; March 1999 (by Ray Scarfe).
68 Stamshaw Road, Stamshaw
Constructed in 1904 to a design by A E Cogswell, the Mediterranean replaced a pub by the name of the Wheelwrights Arms, located on the same site. Originally a Portsmouth United Breweries house, it was acquired by Brickwood’s in 1934 and subsequently became part of Whitbread’s vast empire in 1971. The pub survived until 1978 when it was closed and converted to housing. Thankfully the ornate mural at first floor level still survives, along with the pub’s iron and glass canopy. An external restoration in 2006 helped to brighten up the somewhat jaded façade.
Photographs, left to right: 30th September 2006; March 1999 (by Ray Scarfe); 14th August 1988.
13 Bedford Street, Southsea
Stood at the corner of Bedford Street and Middle Street, the Middleton (previously the Victoria and Princess Victoria) was originally part of the Pike Brewery’s estate and by 1934 was in the hands of Brickwood’s. The Middleton was the subject of a compulsory purchase order in 1961 as part of the city’s huge slum clearance programme that resulted in the construction of the Somerstown council estate later that decade. Demolition followed in 1965, when the pub was replaced by another – the Raven, which is still thankfully trading to this day. The right-hand photograph depicts the pub prior to its demise, with the redevelopment of Somerstown underway.
The Mighty Fine
106 Commercial Road, Landport
See The Albany
The Mile End Cellars
317 Commercial Road, Mile End
Yet another old tavern which could be found in the Mile End district of Commercial Road. The Mile End Cellars spent much of its life under ownership of George Gale & Co. The house survived until as recently as 1977, at which time routine renovation found the premises to be structurally unsound. Demolition followed and another pub, the Oliver Twist, was built as a replacement, this time under ownership of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries.
28 Butcher Street, Portsea
Standing in a prominent position on the corner of Kent Street, the former Mitre traded as such since at least the late 18th century. The pub closed as long ago as 1935, at which time its licence was transferred across town to the Baffins Inn on Tangier Road. The premises has since been used as a restaurant and a hairdressing salon and in early 1980 planning permission was granted to convert the ground floor back into a public house. Sadly this never came to fruition and the building has since been converted into apartments and named Josie Court.
Photographed 15th July 2007.
54 High Street, Old Portsmouth
Housed in an historic Grade II listed building opposite St Thomas’s Anglican cathedral, this comfortable pub cum wine bar traded for many years and was popular with visitors and locals alike. The interior was given an expensive and very pleasing refurbishment in the first decade of the 21st century but sadly began to lose trade due to global recession. The business was given a makeover in 2014 and was relaunched as a tapas bar by the name of El Nico, which sadly saw many of the internal fittings and furnishings of Monk’s days removed, though the premises remained a well-appointed, smart and comfortable environment, with fine attention to detail. Two first floor rooms could be hired for private functions. Sadly the business folded within two years and the premises is currently mothballed.
Photographs, left to right: 6th June 2010; 6th June 2010; 30th September 2006; 11th May 1989; 23rd April 2015.
318 Copnor Road, Copnor
Of all the hundreds of public houses that have stood on Portsmouth’s streets over the centuries, this must surely have been the most eccentric! Built on a shoestring budget in 1942, on the corner of Monckton Road, at a time when World War II was at its midpoint, the Monckton resembled a brutally designed pillbox structure with limited glazing and a flat roof. The pub survived until the summer of 1982, when it was sadly demolished to make way for housing. The Webmaster held a childhood fascination for this building and regrets not having ever had the opportunity to venture inside.
The Morning Star
27 Greetham Street, Southsea
One of many pubs that could be found directly south of the railway corridor between Portsmouth Town and Fratton stations, this sizeable cornerhouse stood at the junction of Greetham Street and Blackfriars Road (and due to street renumbering in the 19th century variously had the addresses 78, 82 and 132 Blackfriars Road!) Once tied to Southsea’s Long’s Brewery, it later became part of the Brickwood portfolio following that company’s takeover of the former in 1934. The pub survived until the late 1960s, at which time much of this neighbourhood was flattened prior to construction of the Somerstown housing estate.
Photograph ©Barry Cox
The Museum Gardens
249 Fratton Road, Fratton
see The Contented Pig
1/3 Warwick Crescent, Southsea
Similar in appearence to the former Seagull on Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, this striking little pub stood amidst the forest of tower blocks in Southsea’s rundown Somerstown neighbourhood. Built in brewers tudor style with Cogswell’s familiar witch’s hat tower, it eventually succumbed to the inevitable, a victim of the local arsonists who were presumably unable to appreciate the only beautiful building on their doorstep. Demolition followed – a terrible waste of what was certainly one of Portsmouth’s most interesting structures.
The right-hand photograph shows the pub in a virtual wasteland, following the slum clearances prior to the redevelopment of Somerstown, and the architectural eyesores that followed.
Left-hand photograph 18th February 1990. Right-hand photograph kindly supplied by J Taylor.