WHEN Winchester's longest serving landlord opened his pub in 1973, punters would pay 11 pence for a pint.

Now, 46 years on, Mike Sinker of The Bakers Arms is set to hang up his hat when his leasehold expires at the end of the month.

The 76-year-old, who lives in Romsey when not staying above the pub, will make way for a new watering hole when the building is reclaimed by its owning brewery, Ei Group.

Mike said: "It's a bit tough, and as you can imagine, it was very difficult when I first had to make the decision, but now I'm used to the idea. I had the option to renew, but I'm 76 now and I don't need to run it anymore.

"I've had a wonderful time in this lovely city, and although I wasn't born and bred here, it does feel like home."

Mr Sinker had opened other pubs during his stay, all of which have closed, including the Farmhouse in Chandler's Ford, but described The Bakers Arms as his "base camp".

He now looks to enjoy a relaxed retirement, but says he will spend time volunteering for various projects in the local area.

He said: "I used to have a villa in Spain, but I've sold that, so unfortunately I won't be living abroad! I live in Romsey, so as you can imagine there's lots of things I can get involved with. I want to help with nature reserves, particularly."

In his long-spanning career, Mike has seen many changes within the industry, including the rising price of alcohol.

"There have been massive changes as you can imagine. Obviously, beer consumption has increased and the prices have gone up. A pint was 11 pence when I first opened!", he said.

"But it was nice to see more and more ladies visit the pub as the years went by, and the introduction of food was something I quite enjoyed, because that never used to be the norm."

He added: "As a non-smoker, when the no smoking rule came about I thought it was much better!

"But, as with anything, I've had to adapt. It's all part of the experience."

A two-day 'send-off' party will be held on April 20 and 21, and Mike will officially leave on April 29.