A HARD working former Greenock hotel owner and publican is finally retiring after more than 40 years in the hospitality business.

During his four decades in the trade Robert McShane was behind the bar at the former Pamrosa Hotel, near the container terminal, the Waterfront Bar and the Carnock Bar.

Latterly he also ran a small B&B business in Patrick Street but now, at the age of 81, he has cooked his last breakfast and put the premises up for sale.

Widower Robert, who hails from Gibshill, worked in IBM as a material controller from 1965 until 1976.

He stumbled into the hotel trade by chance after seeing a newspaper notice advertising a 14-bedroom guesthouse for sale on the Isle of Man.

Robert, who was married to the late Rosalene, said: "We thought we'd have a go at it.

"We were both outgoing and Rosalene would talk to everyone and anyone.

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene McShane..

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene McShane..

"We'd just bought a house in Bawhirley Road and this guest house was half the price of it.

"So we sold our house and bought the B&B.

"We had it for two seasons, 1976 to 1978, in a time before people started going abroad."

That gave the couple the taste for the hospitality trade and many memorable times.

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene.

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene.

Robert says he'll never forget one afternoon when the couple feared that one of their guests had died.

He said: "We were sitting one afternoon having a break as most of the guests were out.

"We heard screaming from up the stairs someone cried 'he's dead!' - and naturally we thought one of our guests had died.

"We rushed up and spoke to the woman and asked 'who's dead?'

"She said: 'Elvis Presley'!"

The pair returned to Greenock and bought a house and converted it into a six-bedroom hotel near the container terminal, named Pamrosa after his daughter Pamela and wife.

Robert said: "We had guests from everywhere including lorry drivers who didn't have cabs to sleep in at the time.

"We were always busy because it was right next to the terminal.

"It was very popular."

Panto legends The Krankies even stayed at the Pamrosa.

Robert said: "They were performing at the Arts Guild and wee Jimmy came to the bar for a drink.

"I joked 'I'm not serving you, I saw you in your school uniform in the show!'.

"Blakey, the inspector from On The Buses also stayed with us.

"He was great fun and went into his character."

During this spell Robert snapped up the former Marine Bar at East India Harbour and renamed it The Waterfront.

Waterfront bar

Waterfront bar

Robert ran the pub for several years while Rosalene was in charge of the hotel.

Robert said these were boom times for the pub trade, especially when the Tall Ships Race visited town in the 90s.

He said: "We were opened from 8am in the morning until 3am the next between serving and taking in deliveries.

"It was a brilliant atmosphere.

"We took four months takings in three days."

But sadly during it was during that period that Rosalene started to become unwell.

The warning signs started when she was out driving one day and her foot jerked off the clutch and onto the accelerator and soon after that she developed a limp.

She was in the early stages of Motor Neurone Disease.

Robert said: "Eventually she couldn't walk and had to use a wheelchair, it was heartbreaking."

Diagnosed in 1993, Rosalene bore her illness bravely and went on to write a book about her life in aid of the MND charity.

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene.

Robert McShane and wife Rosalene.

After the couple sold the Pamrosa they took over the B&B in Patrick Street.

When Rosalene sadly passed away in 1999 Robert sold the Waterfront shortly afterwards.

He took over the Carnock for six years, alongside running the B&B.

Robert has four grown up children - Stephen and Gary live in Greenock, Jeffrey lives on the Isle of Man and Pamela stays in New Zealand.

The great-grandfather is a member of Ardgowan Bowling Club and says he feels the time is now right to retire following a tough year due to the pandemic.

Robert said: "I wouldn't fancy starting out in the business now with everything that has been going on, but it's been a great life in this trade.

"I got to meet so many people from all over the world.

"We had such good times."