South West brewing and pub company St Austell Brewery has announced its first acquisition in Dorset in the form of the iconic Rock Point inn at Lyme Regis.
As part of the purchase, which completed this week, the historic Rock Point and Cobb Fish Bar complex, under the same ownership since 1984, will become part of the successful and award-winning St Austell Brewery estate of Westcountry pubs, inns and hotels.
Speaking following completion of the deal, St Austell Brewery Property Director Adam Luck commented: “We’re grateful to Gail Caddy, the previous owner of the Rock Point, for helping to make the transfer of ownership such a smooth one and we wish her every success with her next ventures.”
Independent and family owned since 1851, St Austell Brewery’s acquisition of Bath Ales in 2016 was a strategic move, not only to build the Bath Ales beer brands and business, but also to be able to service its free trade customers across the eastern part of its operating area more sustainably.
Mr Luck added: “We have always considered the wider South West region as our heartland and have been growing our free trade business for many years. The acquisition of Bath Ales and our new distribution depot at Avonmouth means we can reach more readily to customers all the way down to the south coast and we are very proud to be taking on the Rock Point, our first pub in Dorset and home to so many fantastic and vibrant bars, pubs and hotels.”
Following completion of the purchase of the Rock Point, the premises will remain closed for a number of months to allow for a complete restoration and refurbishment project to give the historic building, part of which is Grade II listed, a new lease of life.
Originally built some time towards the end of the 18th century, Nos 1 & 2 Broad Street have played an integral role in the Cobb Gate end of Lyme Regis for over 200 years. Originally named Bank house, perhaps due to its proximity to the riverbank and mouth of the Lym, the larger Georgian building has been home to a glass and china emporium, a fishmongers and wine and spirit merchants before assuming its better-known role as a hotel and guest house in the early 20th century.
Previously operating under the name of the Vaults lounge, the hotel was first referred to as the Rock Point in 1927 and despite a name change to the Central Hotel in the 40s and being requisitioned for war service during WW2, reverted afterwards to the name by which it has been known to locals for over 60 years.
As for the Cobb Gate Fish bar, the listed building itself is lucky to have survived, being exposed to the vicious lashings of the sea for decades before the development of the Cobb Gate sea defences, while the premises have been home to confectioners, boot & shoe makers, insurance agents and cafes.
Working closely with local agencies and British listed Buildings, St Austell Brewery will undertake a full and sensitive restoration of the buildings and will also be working with researchers from the Lyme Regis Museum to form a more complete understanding of the exact age of the Rock Point and fish bar before once again reopening both sites for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Describing the plans for the historic site Adam added: “The Rock Point is such an amazing pub and a focal point of the local community. We will be talking and listening to everyone over the next few weeks to ensure we do what is right for the building taking into account its heritage and historic usage. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in terms of both community and destination pubs and we want to be sure that the Rock Point will continue to play an important role for both locals and visitors alike when the work is complete.”
For more information about St Austell Brewery and the timeline for the Rock Point restoration, visit www.staustellbrewery.co.uk.