Omnibus - The National Trust Option
We picked up a copy of the National Trust's Holiday Cottages brochure which includes information on properties run as hotels. I have proposed before on this blog that the National Trust should own The Three Cups for the benefit not just of the nation but also for visitors from around the world. The Three Cups as a National Trust Hotel would be marvellous, allowing guests to stay and visitors to enjoy the facilities open to non residents. As such, it would have tremendous presence on the Internet attracting wealthy cultural tourists from all parts of the globe.
I am not suggesting that the re-opened Three Cups Hotel should only be for the rich and privileged although their contribution to turnover would be most welcome. Just as the writings of some of the hotel's most famous guests, Tolkien and Chesterton in particular, celebrated the worth and the economic activity of the common man so, I think, The Cups should cater for all manner of visitors from Japanese Hobbit fans to Jurassic Coast back-packers and not forgetting families of campers looking for afternoon tea. I don't know where fans of Jane Austen would fit in on that scale but I'm sure their behaviour would not be a problem.
This idea that an important national treasure such as The Three Cups should be open for all was reinforced for me by the most notable feature of Hardwick Hall. Although the hall is now owned by the National Trust for the enjoyment of the public, visitors will always remember that it was built for self-aggrandisement of one person, namely Bess of Hardwick or Elizabeth Shrewsbury as she became known. Her pride and possessiveness is apparent from the attempt to create a building of skyscraper proportions with 16th Century technology and the prominent letters, "ES", displayed along the top of every elevation.
|Hardwick Hall Skyline|
The Three Cups Hotel is currently a dead space dragging down business in the centre of Lyme Regis but as a going concern it provided hospitality for all manner of paying customers. The Cups is at the moment an unused hoarded asset. If the owners could see their way to joining the ranks of other successful business men in an act of philanthropy, then we could see this precious jewel become a national treasure and a delight for visitors from around the world.
A thriving National Trust property operating as hotel in the heart of Lyme Regis would not only benefit those employed there; it would also boost the tourist trade for the town and prospects in the whole area. As West Dorset suffers in the current economic climate, the local government should not ignore the cost to its people of this sorry state of affairs. If the owners of The Three Cups will not act in the interests of the local people, it is the duty of West Dorset District Council to use its powers to save the building by compulsory purchase, selling it on the same day to those willing to open it for all.
|The Three Cups as a Hotel, ready to receive guests.|
It is interesting to note that BBC TV ran an arts programme called "Omnibus" for 35 years. I always took that to mean that arts and culture should be available for all. I think that should include having a drink where great figures of English literature sat and thought and laughed and joked in The Three Cups Hotel.
|Left to Right: Tolkien, Chesterton and one of Jane Austen's characters|