“Fears for the Tolkien Hotel” by Sarah Thompson
A member of the Tolkien Society has set up an internet campaign to save the Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis - once a favourite holiday destination of the Hobbit author, JRR Tolkien.
Andrew Townsend from Manchester has created a `blog spot' on the web at www.savethe3cups.info where anyone concerned about the future of the derelict listed building can post their views.
Tolkien fan Mr Townsend visited Lyme Regis recently and was horrified by the extended closure of the hotel where Tolkien holidayed as a child and then later with his own family. In August 1906 a 14yearold Tolkien painted a picture entitled `Lyme Regis Harbour from the Drawing Room Window of the Cups Hotel'.
Andrew Townsend said: "I went to look at the Three Cups Hotel because I had read that Tolkien stayed there several times. "I was sad to find that it is now empty. I would really like to see the building returned to its traditional use as a hotel so that anyone could visit it and take in the atmosphere and history of the place."
The blog has a link to the Tolkien Society's website and already people from all over the world are posting their concerns. Lyme Regis Society chairman Bernard Spencer has written: "There is nothing else that causes as much adverse comment from the people of Lyme Regis than the sight of the Three Cups standing empty and deteriorating daily.
"The Lyme Regis Society has suggested to Palmers Brewery and to Dorset County Council that the ground floor would make a perfect, and much needed, Jurassic Coast Visitors Centre. "Palmers want to convert the upper floors into flats, but if they can't be turned to public use, they would be better used accommodating visitors to our World Heritage Coast."
Mr Spencer said Palmers Brewery was not prepared to discuss plans for the hotel until seafront stabilisation work is completed, but this might not be until 2006/2007. Why, asks Mr Spencer, couldn't the building be opened temporarily with adequate restoration work carried out to ensure its future? He said: "The Lyme Regis Society fears that if restoration work is delayed too long, Palmers may have to consider demolition."
The Sanctuary Bookshop in Broad Street has also set up a notice board about the Three Cups and a petition in the shop has been signed by almost 300 people, many of them from outside the town. Palmers brewery owns the hotel, which has now stood empty for 14 years. They declined to speak to the News this week.
Their commercial property manager Nigel Jones, of Humberts in Yeovil, said the hotel was not for sale and that Palmers would not do anything at the property until stabilisation works in Lyme Regis - due to start next April - were complete. He said the district council had stopped them doing anything.