SHE’S the landlady who has been at the helm of Southampton’s famed Middle-Earth themed pub for more than a decade.

But now Stella Roberts has announced plans to end her adventure at The Hobbit.

Ms Roberts, who has run the pub since 2009, has confirmed plans to surrender the lease of the famed watering hole – a decision she has described as “absolutely devastating”.

She said “changing times” were behind the decision and said students were increasingly opting to buy cheaper alcohol from supermarkets.

Ms Roberts said the impact of “extortionate rent, rates and business overheads” was also behind the decision.

She said: “Believe me when I say I am absolutely devastated to leave as the pub has been a labour of love for me for many years.

“Our business rates were set in 2008 before the financial crash and despite several appeals we have never had them reduced to a more manageable level.

“Likewise, our rent, which our pub company still refuse to reduce.”

Ms Roberts later described the costs in maintaining the “very old building”, on Bevois Valley Road, as “crippling”.

She also referenced a legal battle with the might of Hollywood, who, as previously reported in the Echo, accused the pub of using the name “The Hobbit” and other JRR Tolkien characters and film images in the pub.

The legal battle sparked a fundraising campaign, while Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry helped support the pub in 2012 when Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) accused it of copyright infringement.

Ian McKellen described the film company’s actions as “unnecessary pettiness”, before an agreement was reached between the two parties in 2012.

Shooting Star owner Jack Andrews will now take over the running of The Hobbit from Monday and has promised to continue the theme.

The pub is owned by Star Pubs and Bars – part of the Heineken Company.

The Echo contacted Star Pubs and Bars for a comment but they were unable to respond in time for publication.