MOURNERS dressed in Saints shirts will line the streets around Southampton’s Prince of Wales pub this morning as its popular former landlord sets off on his final journey.
Joe Smith, who ran the pub for ten years following his stints at two other popular city boozers, will set off for his funeral from Northam Road at 10.30am today.
He grew up on the Northam Estate, painted his pubs red and white, lived and breathed Southampton Football Club and even has a Saints themed coffin.
Since Joe became poorly two and a half years ago, the running of the pub has been taken on by his daughter Anneliese, now 29.
She’s the third generation of the Smith family to be at the helm at the Prince of Wales, which her grandparents Peter and Liz Smith ran for 30 years from the late 70s.
“As children, we used to love going down to the pub at the weekend. It was always so full of people and they were so happy to see us. We were always running around there. I used to say to my nan that I wanted to be just like her running the pub and now it’s actually happened.”
It was a baptism of fire for Anneliese, who found her dad in septic shock one day and his lodger, who had agreed to take over the running of the pub, midway through a stroke the following day.
“That’s how it became my job,” she says. “After dealing with everything I thought, I’d better go and open the pub. Growing up in and out of pubs, it’s something that comes naturally. I love it.”
The mum of one has taken it all in her stride and juggles her landlady duties with a part time job at Waitrose in Romsey.
Lying so close to the home of the family’s beloved Saints, the loss of match day income during sports lockdown has hit The Prince of Wales hard.
But Anneliese looks forward to the days when the buzz of home match days can return.
“It will still be my Dad’s pub through and through. He always decorated the pub for Saints and England and he loved nothing more than having the pub full of home and away fans on a match day. There’s never any trouble here and we love all the chanting. I’ve been known to get up on the tables and join in!”
Anneliese is currently a jack of all trades, taking to the roof to clean the gutters and counselling any struggling regulars.
“I never really pictured myself getting up on the roof but we can’t really pay anyone to do it at the moment and I can, so why not? I love the pub so much and I love the community and my regulars. I’m determined to see it through Covid and will do everything I can to keep it open.”
Anneliese has lots of ideas for the future. She’s already made food bank and period poverty donations on behalf of the pub and will restart the darts and pool teams as soon as she is able.
She also hopes to use the little used front bar for the good of the community, offering students living in chaotic homes, home workers and small business owners a place to work with free WiFi. Plans are also afoot for food, particularly fish and chip Friday.
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