Plymouth pub that used to have topless bar reopens as a family venue
ONE of Britain's toughest pubs has reopened, 16 months after its landlady called time.
Now, instead of being a topless bar catering for Dockyard workers, the Avondale Arms is setting its sights on the family-friendly market.
A Plymouth couple has taken on the pub in Keyham Road.
Michael West and Danielle Pine have spent thousands of pounds doing up the pub, which they are leasing from new owners Mad Hatter Taverns.
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The pub has been open since last month, but they will hold an official opening party on September 8.
And they will use the event to raise money to save the Falklands War frigate HMS Plymouth from the breaker's yard.
Danielle said the evening's entertainment would include musicians such as Michael Collings from Britain's Got Talent.
There will be karaoke from 9pm to 1am, and Chris Swift from the HMS Plymouth Trust will be a special guest.
Danielle said: "We took the pub on and decided to turn it into a venue for families and the Royal Navy."
They have invested about £7,000 in the bar area and built a kitchen from scratch.
"We do occasionally have people walk in to see if it's still a topless bar," Danielle said. "Some of them stay anyway."
The Avondale Arms was legendary as one of the toughest pubs in Plymouth and even featured on the Sky TV show, "The Toughest Pubs In Britain" in 2007.
The pub on the corner of Keyham Road, opposite the Devonport Dockyard and Naval Base, sold at auction in February.
It fetched £105,000, considerably above its £65,000 minimum price.
The freehold of the "dockers' pub", described as having "a colourful history", included two bars, a cellar and two upstairs bedrooms.
The hostelry served sailors and dockers for decades, until it shut down last year.
At one time it was called The Porter and the Barbican Tavern and gained notoriety as a "topless" bar in recent years.
Meanwhile, members of the HMS Plymouth Trust are working flat-out to raise the £400,000 which is needed to buy the ship from her owners, Peel Ports.
The trust has been promised a berth for the frigate in Northumberland.
The warship was built in Devonport in 1959, and in 1982 she provided vital support during the Falklands campaign, with the Argentine surrender document being signed in her wardroom.
If the trust gets the money to buy the frigate, it is planned that she will be used for cadet training, a museum and a marine engineering workshop.
To donate, people can send cheques to Navy Training Corps HQ, PO Box 328, Malvern WR14 9GB or, alternatively, give online at the website MSTSBlyth.org.uk
To find out more, visit www.hmsplymouthtrust.co.uk