The Hobbit, Southampton
The Hobbit is a themed pub 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
The Hobbit is thought to have opened in its current form in 1989, replacing a hotel previously located on the site. 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. It won the Best Pub award at the Southern Daily Echo's Best Bar None event in 2007. 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.
Many drinks served at The Hobbit are named after characters from Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. 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.
2012 naming dispute
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. The move was strongly criticised by actors Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen, both of whom appear in the upcoming Hobbit film series, and by John Denham, Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen. 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 licence fee. Fry and McKellen later offered to contribute to the payment of the licence fee. 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.
Ownership and management
The pub is one of several in Southampton to be owned by Punch Taverns. It was operated by landlord Steve Dockrell prior to his death in October 2008, and was taken over by Stella Roberts in June 2009.
- Reynolds, Emma (13 March 2012). "The battle of Middle Earth (Enterprises): British pub called The Hobbit for 20 years is sued by Hollywood giant over use of name". Mail Online.
- Simpson, Jacqueline (2011). Green Men & White Swans: The Folklore of British Pub Names. Random House. p. 133. ISBN 978-1847945150.
- "They're the best bar none". Southern Daily Echo. 1 May 2007.
- "Lease error forces popular bar to shut temporarily". Southern Daily Echo. 17 December 2007.
- "Hobbit pub in Southampton threatened with legal action". BBC News. 13 March 2012.
- "Pub Food: Kitchen not essential". Morning Advertiser. 9 December 2010.
- Child, Ben (16 March 2012). "Producer who oversees Hobbit brand offers 'amicable resolution' over pub name". The Guardian.
- "Stephen Fry backs Hobbit pub in Southampton over legal action". BBC News. 14 March 2012.
- Robinson, Julian (19 March 2012). "Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry to pay for The Hobbit pub in Southampton's licence fee". Southern Daily Echo.
- "Hobbit pub copyright row: Legal fees fundraising event". BBC News. 11 August 2012.
- "Pleased as Punch with rising profits". Southern Daily Echo. 9 November 2007.
- Stephenson, Corey (9 October 2008). "Pub landlord falls victim to meningitis". Southern Daily Echo.