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The Old Customs House, Portsmouth

Vernon Building, Gunwharf Quay
Phone: 02392832333

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Steve of N21 left this review about The Old Customs House

This is a very pleasant pub and although the beer range and quality was good for our visit, the real star here is the building. I won’t repeat previous information pertaining to the downstairs inside and outside layout of this well maintained historic building, but will add a small tip. The toilets are on the first floor up the central staircase and whether you have the need to use them or not I suggest you take the trip. But then sneak up one flight of stairs more to the original custom house rooms on the second floor that I guess are now used as function rooms and have been left in their Georgian splendour by Fullers.
All six hand pumps were in operation for our visit with a good Fullers range on including a very well kept Tiny Rebel Cwtch as a guest. As mentioned below most customers come here to eat but the outside tables to the front are a great spot for an alfresco pint when the sun is high, as fortunately it was for us.

On 30th October 2021 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1770 recommendations about 1714 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Old Boots left this review about The Old Customs House

Multi-room Fullers pub, very Georgian and elegant, one gets the impression they would prefer it to be just a restaurant but the bar area is nice and the beers are very well kept, one of the best pints of London Pride I’ve had in years and it’s a good beer when kept well. Six pulls with a range of Fullers beers, bottles of the sublime 1845 and London Porter are also available. Much of what Quinno says still applies.

On 3rd April 2019 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2437 recommendations about 2241 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Old Customs House

An impressive conversion by Fullers, situated in the middle class mecca of Gunwharf Quays and nicely appointed, with exterior views of the quay and a lovingly restored dock crane. Claims of it being the ‘only traditional pub in the Quays’ should be taken with a pinch of salt though. As mentioned below the entrance leads into a small lobby with a tea/coffee area, hang left to get to the bar. Multi-roomed and tastefully styled within, including maritime prints and a bit of Brunel. Presumably a good degree of the fittings are original such as doors and fireplaces. Six ales available; Pride, ESB, HSB, Seafarers, Spring Sprinter (cold but fresh and in good form) and a guest from Holts. Usual Fullers pricing structure so don’t expect to get much change back from £4 a pint. Extensive outside suntrap seating makes for a good year-round venue. Chilled background music playing on my late morning visit (opens at 10) and the place was slowly filling up, almost certainly a busy day’s trade in the offing. It’s certainly worth seeking this one out and is handy as a first pint/last pint venue if using the Portsmouth Harbour BR.

On 18th March 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 4200 recommendations about 4187 pubs]

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Mark Davey left this review about The Old Customs House

Some previous reviews have this place nailed so I won't dwell. Pretty much run of the mill Fullers establishment with a decent variety of Fullers brews and guests on the bar. Made a nice little pit stop whilst visiting the area with family. Worth a visit and much better than the adjacent fizzy lager joints.

On 17th March 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 292 recommendations about 276 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Malden man left this review about The Old Customs House

This is an impressive and sympathetic conversion in the Gunwharf Quay development, mirrored by a very similar building across the wharf which is now a Loch Fyne restaurant. The main entrance has a food/coffee servery immediately in front of you which confused for a moment, stairs lead up either side to the toilet facilities. The bar is in the area to the left, Fullers beers, a decent range too with almost the full set plus Wychwood Hobgoblin. Not sure if this is a regular Fuller's guest or a Halloween pop up.
The building layout has been left alone with no knocking through, a series of separate rooms are linked by a spine corridor. Themed by name, eg The Portsmouth Room, The Chart Room, The Dickens Room, all feature fairly intimate areas to sit, eat and drink, with views over the Gunwharf outside. There is also al fresco seating, both to the frontage and in an enclosed courtyard to the rear.
The rooms themselves are well preserved, with original panelling, fireplaces and the old solid doors remaining in place.
Wood flooring as you'd expect, with some large rugs. Additional corridor seating to the right of the entrance at high tables, but the rooms are easily the best bet.
Decor includes a few naval scenes, knots and a few framed epaulettes of different ranking officers.
We had lunch here, the food was ok, nothing more but I did enjoy a decent pint of Seafarers. I'd say this place is the best bet if you're at the Gunwharf unless you like modern chrome fizz/wine bar places.

On 28th October 2012 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1690 recommendations about 1664 pubs]

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I L left this review about The Old Customs House

A great conversion of an old naval building into a multi roomed Fullers pub next or to Gunwharf Quay. A nice selection of Fulers ales fom six hand pumps with Red Fox available and in good condition on my visit but at £3.85 a pint it's a bit steep. I pay less for an equivalent ale in central London!

On 29th September 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 287 recommendations about 284 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Old Customs House

This fine pub conversion offers a welcome alternative to the other bars in the Gunwharf Quays complex. Good use is made of the historic structure (also known as the Vernon Building), with various rooms offering different types of seating and dining areas. Bench seating at the front and a patio beer garden at the back. Nice toilets! Five Fullers/Gales ales on handpump - Pride, ESB, HSB, Seafarers and Discovery (good, but steeply priced at £3.50). Separate coffee bar counter. Overall, worth seeking out.

On 26th June 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6591 recommendations about 6591 pubs]

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E TA left this review about The Old Customs House

The Old Customs House is a former military office and stores block, part of the administrative buildings which were here before HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) was sold off and became the Gunwharf shopping complex. The building has been converted into a modern, spacious venue inside while retaining its former appearance (albeit slightly cleaned up) outside. Now a Fullers pub, it does food at a reasonable price and keeps its ale well. Four ales on, I tried the ESB which was in very good condition and enjoyable, the only criticism being that it was expensive. Well worth a visit for lunch or whiel the other half shops, and could easily be included in a town crawl.

On 3rd January 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2731 recommendations about 2699 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Old Customs House

There are no prizes for guessing the original use of this pub that sits in the heart of the newly regenerated Gunwharf Quays. The building dates from 1790 and was part of the HMS Vernon shore establishment responsible for mine and torpedo development until being converted to its present use in 1986 although its claim to be the Quays only “traditional pub” are perhaps stretching things a little given my understanding of the phrase.

The downstairs is divided into multiple rooms with a restaurant extension to one side. There are bare floors and plain, light décor with, unsurprisingly a nautical theme. The contemporary feel is a little at odds with its past usuage but reflects the area’s modern makeover and the place will generally attract a more mature customer base than many of the neighbouring chrome and glass bars that suck in the local partygoers.

There is a decent range of Fullers/Gales beers (ESB, HSB, Seafarers, Pride and Discovery on my visit) although prices are quite hefty but about par for the area. The bar section itself is quite small and when busy, as it will inevitably becomemost evenings, service can be slow but the bar staff worked hard and were very friendly. There is also a separate small coffee bar by the main staircase that leads to the toilets and the formal function rooms that possess an elegance that is more suited to the building. Foodwise, main bar snack meals were in the £7 to £10 range.

If the weather allows, the narrow front terrace is a fine spot amid the redundant cannons, geraniums and busy lizzies with views of the quays and the bustle of visitors.

Traditional pub or not, it is one of the more pleasant and characteristic pubs in the area and a return visit would certainly not be out of the question.

On 5th November 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]