The Hobbit (public house)

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The Hobbit is a themed public house located in the Bevois Valley area of Southampton, England. Thought to have been founded in 1989, it is named after a race created by J. R. R. Tolkien. In 2012 The Hobbit was involved in a legal dispute with Middle-earth Enterprises, a company owned by film producer Saul Zaentz, over its use of the name.

History and facilities[edit]

The Hobbit is thought to have opened in its current form in 1989, replacing a hotel previously located on the site.[1] Its name is inspired by the race of the same name featured in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien; other public houses with the same name exist in Weston-super-Mare, Monyash and Sowerby Bridge.[2] It won the Best Pub award at the Southern Daily Echo's Best Bar None event in 2007.[3] In December 2007 it was forced to close for two weeks as a result of an administrative error, during which time the pub was refurbished.[4]

Many drinks served at The Hobbit are named after characters from Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.[1][5] Although The Hobbit does not have a kitchen, a new Caribbean food franchise was introduced in 2009, operating from a shed in the pub's garden.[6]

2012 naming dispute[edit]

On 13 March 2012 it was reported that Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) which oversees copyright issues surrounding Tolkien's works on Middle earth, had accused the pub of copyright infringement over the use of the Hobbit name.[5] The move was strongly criticised by actors Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen, both of whom appear in the upcoming Hobbit film series,[7] and by John Denham, Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen.[8] A Facebook campaign to save The Hobbit was launched, and by 16 March 2012 had gained over 50,000 followers. On the same date SZC offered to resolve the dispute by allowing the pub to use the name for a license fee.[7] Fry and McKellen later offered to contribute to the payment of the license fee.[9] Despite the apparent resolution, legal disputes surrounding the issue continued into August 2012, when an event was held at the pub to raise money to pay for its lawyers to continue negotiations.[10]

Ownership and management[edit]

The pub is one of several in Southampton to be owned by Punch Taverns.[11] It was operated by landlord Steve Dockrell prior to his death in October 2008,[12] and was taken over by Stella Roberts in June 2009.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]