Hampshire & Isle of Wight

The Hobbit pub company goes into liquidation in Southampton

Pub sign
Image caption The pub was at the centre of a row over its use of JRR Tolkien images

The company behind a pub called The Hobbit, which has been at the centre of a copyright row with a Hollywood film company, is to go into liquidation.

Landlady Stella Roberts said she could no longer afford to keep the pub, in Southampton, open.

She admitted she would be a "gibbering wreck" when it came time to surrender the lease on Sunday.

In 2012, Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen stepped in to support the pub in the dispute with the Hollywood firm.

The Saul Zaentz Company accused it of copyright infringement by using the name "The Hobbit" and other JRR Tolkien characters and film images in the pub.

Image caption Much of the memorabilia in the pub is now being auctioned on eBay

But Ms Roberts said she would still be leaving the pub after 12 years even if the dispute had not happened.

She said: "That's still ongoing - although it won't make much difference to me now because I'm taking all the theming away from the pub - but drinking habits among the students have changed and our biggest clientele is students.

"I don't blame them. They come out later, they drink less in pubs, they drink more at home. It's cheaper for them and supermarkets sell cheap booze.

"People are doing what they have to do to survive."

Ms Roberts, who describes herself as a "huge fan" of Tolkien's works, added: "As we're starting to remove things from the pub it gets harder and harder.

"Today we took down a lot of the pictures that have been hand-painted and the oils that have been done over the years.

"It's difficult because I'm now looking at bare walls but I have no choice."

Much of the memorabilia is now being auctioned on eBay.

The pub is expected to remain known as The Hobbit and will reopen on Monday under new owners.

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