Save The Three Cups Hotel

The Three Cups Hotel

Campaigning for preservation of the hotel where J.R.R. Tolkien stayed and gained inspiration for his mythology. Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, Tennyson and H.W. Longfellow were also guests. The hotel featured in the film, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”. Please send articles to me, Andrew Townsend, at or add a comment. Thanks to David Moss for all his work. Comments are closed at WDDC for the plans to redevelop the site but you can still write to the papers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hotel Talks must include Public

A letter from John Grantham of Community Alert on Pubs has been published in The Bridport and Lyme Regis News papers today. I'm pleased to see that it highlights the missing cultural links from Palmers "Heritage" report. It's good to hear that Community Alert is looking at producing their own section for this which puts what they believe to be proper value on all the heritage/special interest areas the hotel offers from a visitor's point of view. Click through to see full text of the letter.

"West Dorset District Council won’t be attending an open session with Lyme residents, working only with ‘Save Three Cups as Hotel Group’ (good), and Town Council (all but one I believe absent from all 3 public meetings on ‘the Cups’ in 2009). All 235 attenders voted for compulsory purchase at June 5th meeting: next day 1,397 of 1,400 people signed a ‘compulsory purchase’ petition.

Does anyone feel it’s ‘limited democracy’ meeting the Town Council but not being ready to talk openly with Lyme residents?

When I reported the crumbling Three Cups’ condition to a West Dorset District Council meeting, 23rd March 2009, an officer said “When we sent someone down there a few months ago, everything was perfectly alright”! When I asked if Palmers should act, he said“That’s not Palmers’ current business objective”.

I called in the Health & Safety Executive, forcing urgent council safety action. Guttering had previously crashed 70 ft on to a public area and a tile had ripped into a neighbour’s car.

Urgent structural repairs, scaffolding, emergency railings, and later more structural work followed. Then more work. Incredibly, on May 21st, I was banned from further direct contact with Conservation/ Building Control officers.

Chesterton Humberts, acting for Palmers, released the “Historical Assessment” they purchased on the Three Cups Hotel.

This incredibly totally omits mentions of features of special historical interest such as Jane Austen staying in the building, scenes from the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ - seen by millions (billions?) internationally, etc.

With omissions like this, how weightily can the ‘independent’ report actually be treated?

John Grantham
Community Alert"

Read the full post

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Community Alert on Pubs letter to WDDC

The Community Alert on Pubs action group has sent the following letter to West Dorset District Council.

To: Mr D Clarke, Chief Executive, WDDC.
Copies to: Dr D Evans, Councillor R Gould, WDDC Councillors.
Date: 1st February 2010

Dear Mr Clarke,


We believe WDDC has demonstrated serious neglect in duty of care to two West Dorset establishments.

Alarmingly, the central, shattering finding of TRI Consultancy’s report reads: “Over the last 20 years the exterior and particularly the interior of the building have become severely dilapidated”. (It’s ‘official’ – this iconic, Grade II-listed building under WDDC authority is … “severely dilapidated”.)

Restoration/ refurbishment cost to open would depend partly on the style, quality, rooms etc a particular (new) owner envisages - but no-one doubts it’ll be a 7-figure £ sum. Yet, TRI - as expected - confirms that, once opened, an additional 4 star boutique hotel in Lyme IS viable.

If indeed “the exterior and particularly the interior are severely dilapidated” how does this tally with Dr Evans’ WDDC letter, May 21st 2009, outlining just 3 areas for Palmers’ attention: kitchen skylight/flashings; ivy; and water ingress above rear projecting bay? He concludes “Once this work is complete the Council is content that the listed building issues at this property will have been addressed for the present time,” with the 3 repairs ‘due for completion’ by June 7th. But ITV’s film broadcast of 25th January 2010 on dilapidation, shows inexplicably they’ve STILL not been undertaken by Palmers. (English Heritage knows the situation.)

Equally confusingly, Nigel Jones’, of Chesterton Humberts, Palmers property agent, said in a local paper, April: “The building has not deteriorated – remarkably, having been empty for 20 years, it is in such good condition”. (100 photos of inside, and TRI organisation’s report, seem to suggest otherwise. And most outside guttering, piping and fire-escape stairs have collapsed, perished or are non-functional - indeed two years ago a 30ft run of cast-iron guttering crashed 70ft onto the pavement below.)

From this, ONE burning issue emerges – how speedily WDDC now halts further dilapidation/ collapse. If restoration will cost £2-£4 millions, a new buyer must be searched for immediately, found fast, and start salvage work soon – perhaps buying the hotel for £1 (because of the £ millions investment required … and after WDDC has compulsory purchased at say £1). WDDC should immediately announce, and start implementing, its Compulsory Purchase, publicising strongly “Buyer wanted!” Prospective buyers must obtain early viewings to clarify/ confirm interest; compulsory purchase would follow, with sell-on at perhaps £1 to new buyer, on a ‘back-to-back’ arrangement, with WDDC offering grants/loans. Every day WDDC hesitates, increases dilapidation, raises cost.

By acting NOW, WDDC may avoid surely ignominious disrepute in local, national and international media for failing in its duty. Internet research shows WDDC’s inaction makes it ‘the most backward’ council in UK on solving hotel/pub ‘eyesores’– meanwhile Lyme’s economy has lost some £10-20 millions from the 20-year shut.

WDDC cannot duck responsibility by being diverted by talk of glossy new planning applications, flashy restaurant, sea-views for luxury flats with occasional affordable ones, civic amenities, or opening-up access to Langmoor Gardens, …. Lyme simply and urgently needs more hotel BEDS.

Very specifically, Mr Clarke, given the powers WDDC possesses under 1990 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act (particularly sections 54-55; and 47-52 including Compulsory Purchase) can you please explain in detail just how WDDC has allowed this building to degenerate into its current parlous, last-chance-saloon “severely dilapidated” state - and confirm immediate actions?

I will phone you this week to see if you and/or Dr Evans and/or Cllr Gould, (having all sadly declined invitations to attend two public meetings with the residents of Lyme during 2009), will now accept an invitation to attend there during February, given alarming TRI Consultancy’s findings. We can agree time/ date/ chairman.

2) OLD SWAN, TOLLER PORCORUM: WDDC still refuses to take the necessary compulsory purchase action. The pub’s dilapidation 11 years after being shut by Palmers, (mostly with rain pouring through an open part of the roof above the bar), has triggered serious physical rotting… and an estimated 6-figure £ loss to the local economy. The owners refuse to re-open or offer it for sale.

Palmers/ WDDC have prevaricated (11 full years), and eventual, stuttering discussions have stalled at 5 years free rent (concession would be covered anyway by purchases of Palmers beers). Extraordinarily, the massive £300,000 necessary to restore the pub Palmers has left to rot would have to be paid – say Palmers - by the residents! (…actually £1,000 for every man, woman and child in Toller!)

3) ACTIONS: We look forward to hearing in due course news of your acceptance of visiting Lyme to debate openly with Lyme residents, finding buyers and compulsory purchase.

We have ‘Questions’ booked at WDDC Council meeting, 23rd February… actually the last before the Election where you can fully inform the whole community on incisive, detailed action.

Yours sincerely,

John Grantham,
Community Alert on Pubs/Hotels.

Read the full post

Article in Bridport News 18th February 2010

Click through to read the text of the article. Hopefully the working group will not get bogged down with the preconceived idea of a high cost luxury hotel.

Bid to thrash out plan for seaside hotel

CAMPAIGNERS who want to see the Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis saved and re-opened as a hotel hope to get some answers when they meet its owner for the first time.

John Palmer, chairman and managing director of the Bridport brewery, has agreed to meet with members of the Save the Three Cups Hotel group at the end of March.

An independent report on the dilapidated building – which has been closed for 20 years – found that although there is an opportunity for a four-star boutique hotel in the town, the costs outweigh the profits.

Campaign committee chairman John Dover said: “The meeting will be an opportunity to get answers to our questions from the man at the top.

“He is obviously a key decision maker and we now have our first chance to strike up a relationship with him.

“Among the many points we wish to raise with him will be to seek his views on the future of the Three Cups and to establish the strength of his long term commitment to Lyme Regis.”

Town councillors have been asked to nominate three members to join a working group involving Palmers Brewery, their advisors, plus officers and members of West Dorset District Council.

Palmers say they wish to set up the working group to discuss a way forward for the Three Cups Hotel which would benefit the town and be financially viable.

Read the full post

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is it a Question of Democracy?

Dealing with West Dorset District Council and Lyme Regis Town Council is proving difficult when it comes asking them to take action in the interest of their electorate as the following letter from John Grantham will show. Click on "Read the full post" below to read letter published in View from Dorchester / Bridport / Beaminster / Lyme Regis on 17-2-10.

The Three Cups: Is it a Question of Democracy?

WDDC sadly classified my letter to Mr Clarke as “a complaint”. WDDC won’t attend an open session with Lyme residents, working only with ‘Save Three Cups as Hotel Group’ (good), and Town Council (all absent from April’s Bridport Public Meeting, all but one absent from June’s Lyme meeting, all but one absent from October’s, Lyme?) In June all 235 attendees voted for compulsory purchase; next day 1,397 of 1,400 people signed a compulsory purchase petition.

Anyone feel it’s ‘limited democracy’ meeting the Town Council but not being prepared to openly talk with hundreds of residents?

When I reported the crumbling Three Cups’ condition to a WDDC meeting, 23rd March 2009, an officer said curtly “When we sent someone down there a few months ago, everything was perfectly alright”! When I asked if Palmers should act thereon he uttered “That’s not Palmers’ current business objective”.

I therefore called-in H&S Executive, forcing urgent WDDC safety action. Vital, as guttering had previously crashed 70 ft onto a public area and a tile had ripped into a neighbour’s car. Urgent structural repairs with scaffolding followed, emergency railings, and later more structural internal work. Yet more work was required later, some implemented. I believe our whistle-blowing was severely resented, and incredibly, May 21st, I was actually banned from further direct contact with Conservation/ Building Control officers! (One reason for my approx weekly email to WDDC - their stated complaint - was … I hardly ever received clear answers on Council’s powers/actions. I still am unclear on these).

Today the Cups’ condition is “severely dilapidated” (TRI).

I am sending WDDC some real complaints/questions now on other questions ignored.

(If Community Alert writes less to “Letters” in future, the fight for true facts/ fairness/ democratic expression nevertheless accelerates!)

John Grantham
Community Alert

Read the full post

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Philanthropy - now there's an idea

Yesterday, I visited the Towneley Museum in Burnley where there are many exhibits relating to the brewer, Edward Stocks Massey, described as Burnley's greatest philanthropist.

The museum building belonged to the Towneley family until 1902 when they sold it to the Town Council as they could no longer maintain it. Since then it has been open for the public to enjoy.

I believe that Lyme Regis Town Council were in favour of compulsory purchase of The Three Cups. As Palmers appear to be unable to maintain the building in a safe condition, I would suggest that the town council pursue their resolution with West Dorset District Council who have the power to act in the interest of those who elected them.

Read the full post

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Reaction from Campaign Group

The Save The Three Cups as a HOTEL action group have given their response to Palmer's consultants report on their website,

For my own part, I would like to add a few comments to my earlier ones regarding this report:

- the answer you get depends on the question you ask

- if Palmers don't want The Three Cups to be a hotel again, they should sell it or the District Council should use compulsory purchase to save it for the nation and the cultural tourists from around the world who would come and stay there and

- where there's a will, there's a way.

Read the full post