PRESS RELEASE: Great country estate must save historic Dorset Inn
18th September 2020
Demolition plans have been approved by Dorset Council.
SAVE is making a public appeal to Illchester Estates, owners of a much-loved watering hole near the sandy beach in Wyke Regis in Dorset, to change their plans to demolish a handsome 1890s inn.
Ilchester Estates, based near Dorchester, own large numbers of beautifully restored and well-maintained traditional country cottages which flourish as holiday lets. SAVE argues that their plans for demolishing the Ferrybridge Inn and replacing it with 29 houses and flats are short-sighted.
This historic building could easily be incorporated in the new housing development, especially given that their plans actually include a replacement pub.
The Ferrybridge Inn closed its doors in 2015, and despite standing guard over the Portland Causeway for over 130 years, remains unlisted.
A petition launched by local residents has now attracted nearly 2000 signatures calling on Ilchester to retain the inn and allow the community to reopen it as pub.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage says: “This is a charming building with a lot of history. Across the whole length and breadth of Britain hundreds of similar pubs have been revived and reopened and with pubs back in favour, it is no time to demolishing them.”
Ben Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain’s Heritage says: “The Ferrybridge has stood the tests of time for 130 years, speaking to the rich history of this part of Dorset. With its enviable position on the South West Coast Path and a community keen to save it, reviving the Ferrybridge is just common sense.”
Dave Taylor, on behalf of the local petition 'Act Now - Save the Ferrybridge Inn' says: “The community would like to see The Ferrybridge re-opened as a pub and accommodation for guests. It is in a prime location and there are several successful eateries close by, so the demand from visitors and residents is there. The town of Wyke now only has one pub, it formerly had ten!"
In their justification for demolishing the inn, architects Morgan Carey claim the inn is “reaching the end of its life”. On the contrary, SAVE considers the Ferrybridge to be a robust structure that can easily be refurbished and reopened.
Ilchester’s controversial demolition plans were granted planning permission in 2018, but doubt had been cast over whether the development would still happen with the original planning permission set to expire on 22nd August 2020. However, in light of the COVID 19 pandemic, an extension has been granted until 1st May 2021.
The Inn’s location marks the gateway to the Isle of Portland, one of Britain’s most famous naval bases, and for many years the innkeepers collected the bridge tolls.
Before the first bridge was built in 1839, ropes were attached to posts allowing the ferry to be pulled back and forth. Following the Great Storm of 1824, in which the ferryman lost his life, there were calls for a bridge. When it opened it 1839, Ferrybridge immediately became a popular attraction for visitors wishing to cross to the Isle of Portland.
Established by the Bridge Commissioners in 1840 as “a commodious house” for the toll keeper, The Ferrybridge Inn soon became the Royal Victoria Inn, much loved by locals and tourists alike, as the nearest pub in Portland was two miles away.
When the original bridge crossing was replaced in 1896, the Inn and adjoining land were sold to renowned local brewers Devenish & Co who rebuilt it with attractive gables and bay windows, using warm red brick and brightly painted woodwork, which still survives intact. Inside, much of the inn retains original features, including low-slung timber framed ceilings.
Note to editors
1. For more information and images contact Ben Oakley, Conservation Officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7253 3500.
2. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.