A friendly pub at Weymouth harbour scoops this week’s Pub of the Week title for its popularity over the years.

The Red Lion has been part of Weymouth nautical life for at least 170 years, with documents dating it back to 1851.

Here, landlady Sarah Bodnick tells us about life at the Lion on Hope Square.

How long have you been the landlord/landlady for?

I have officially been landlady for 2 years however I have been here in a management capacity for seven years. the whole business has been under the watchful eye of Brian, the owner, for the last decade.

Why did you decide to run a pub?

I have been pouring pints for nearly 20 years now both in full and part time positions. I have always loved the atmosphere of proper British pubs, there’s nothing better than a pint with good mates after a hard day, whether to congratulate or commiserate there’s always something going on.

Dorset Echo:

Getting to know your locals and being part of peoples lives even in such a small way I’ve always found hugely rewarding. The camaraderie in a bar team is second to none, I’ve met some fantastic people and made lifelong friends. Most of all it’s The Red Lion itself that made me fall in love with the job, who wouldn’t want to spend their days serving their favourite booze behind their favourite bar?

Bar staff names Jay Warner-Jones (manager); Luke Watson (chef); Ryan (chef); Jamie (commis chef); Lucy (absolute bar babe) and Reece (resident hunk)

History of the pub (that you know of) The Red Lion is situated in Hope Square by the disused Devenish Brewery at the back of Weymouth’s old South Harbour. It was originally built as the brewery ‘tap’ as part of the Devenish complex. We have definite documents dating the pub to 1851 but there may have been a ‘lion’ on this site as far back as 1823! Nearly 200 years of pints. The pub was traditionally a hang out for our local life boat crew (with the station being a short walk around the corner), the doors were always open for many a weary crewman no matter what the hour! We still celebrate this fact today, 10p from every pint of our ‘lifeboat’ ale is donated to our local crew, alongside collections from our Christmas raffle. You can also see the many photographs of crew past and presenty on our walls.

Dorset Echo:

Celebrations outside the Red Lion on VE Day

Is food served and if so, what’s on the menu?

Our main menu offers all your traditional homemade pub favourites, from our steak and ‘lifeboat’ ale pie to beer battered haddock and chips. We also pride ourselves on our local fish and seafood. our delicious Portland crab is straight from the net to your plate and our seafood sharing boards have a reputation that spans the country, with holidaymakers coming back for them year after year! Due to the current Covid situation we are currently offering a reduced menu containing many street food favourites such as spicy wings, rum infused ribs and homemade curries.

Most popular drink served is: If you’re after a pint it has to be our local Jurassic Ale from Dorset Brewing Company but if you fancy something a little stronger it’s a shot of our favourite Rebellion spiced rum picked from our selection of over 100!

Most memorable moment?

It has to be when Ben Ainslie won gold for the sailing in the 2012 Olympics. We were lucky enough to situated a few seconds walk from one of the best spots to see the action unfold and the after party as people came back through the square was amazing.

Dorset Echo:

The atmosphere was electric, the place was packed. people singing, celebrating and of course drinking!

Do you have an entertainment line-up?

Every Sunday throughout the summer months we have our brilliant house band Replay performing retro hits from the 50s and 60s. They bring a real summer vibe to the square and get the crowds dancing in the street. We are still finding a way to work out the restrictions at the moment but they will be back with us soon!Right now the square is home to some very talented buskers.

Dorset Echo:

The best thing about running a pub is...

Definitely the people! You never know who you’re going to meet from day to day be it a customer or new team member. There’s always something to laugh about, even on the bad days!

The worst thing about running a pub is....

The long hours can get to you at times. you really have to make a strong commitment to the job.

The perfect cure for a hangover is...

The best breakfast in town, served by our neighbours next door at the Crows Nest followed by one of our special recipe Bloody Marys, and don’t hold back on the Tabasco!.......or the vodka for that matter!

How have you responded to the challenge of the coronavirus lockdown and how do you see the pub adapting to the new situation?

I feel as a pub we have adapted quite well, although the constant changing of restrictions can be a little confusing! We have been lucky enough to be able to expand our outside seating area.

We are running reduced menus with food served in disposable containers and operating a table service system.

Is there anything you would like to add that people might find of interest about your pub?

Our ‘haunted’ alleyway. If you look to the left of the front of the building you will see an alley that leads down to the harbour.

This alley was used as a queuing point for the D Day troops during the Second World War. Scratched into the red bricks you will see the initials and dates of some of these brave souls, they would leave their mark with the tip of their bayonets. Some say on a dark night you can still smell the smoke from their cigarettes.

Are you a landlord or landlady? If you'd like your pub to be considered for our Pub of the Week title, fill out our simple Q&A form and submit pictures here