Whether to Wetherspoon – snobbish Lymington

Is Lymington too posh for a Wetherspoon’s?

C Ford & Co

The building Wetherspoon's want


Try Googling this to get the answers.

The southern coastal town of Lymington in Hampshire has caused a bit of a flurry of publicity over the last year or so by seeming to be too posh for some national chains.  Initially there was the Argos debacle: Argos wanted to take over the site previously occupied by Waitrose (it is now an M&S Simply Food outlet) and there was a local brouhaha about whether the town wanted such an outlet, somebody even suggested that the chain might be more suited to the area of Pennington the adjacent parish.  Pennington residents were in uproar as there appeared to be an implication that its parish was not as good as that of Lymington.

Now we have J D Wetherspoon applying to form an outlet in the former Ford building, now occupied by furnishers  and household goods suppliers Palfrey and Kemp.  The Ford building is interesting architecturally – perhaps it never should have been put next to a church as the styles clash somewhat.  The building is 60’s in appearance ( I could be corrected here) A flat fronted modernist façade covered in Portland stone to the first floor, and set back under this a full plate glass frontage.  The first floor façade is supported on some pretty ghastly cylindrical pillars sheathed in small mosaic tile popular at one time.  Portland stone and mosaic – what a mish mash.

I don’t think Wetherspoon care too much about the architecture, what they want is the space and this building is quite abundant with that.  Whatever happens, the building though not fine, needs some love and attention.  When I have visited the shop on rainy days there are buckets everywhere catching drips from the leaking roof  (flat roofs don’t work well in this country, even Waitrose has leaks).  If the building were to remain uncared for much longer it would have to be pulled down, there is already some disintegration of the concrete supports and beams caused by water ingress.

Go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/13/lymington-rejects-wetherspoons-pub if you want a picture.

The Ford building  next to the site of the Six Bells

The Ford building next to the site of the Six Bells

The proximity of the church seems to be the main reason or excuse for the protesters.  I disagree that this should count.  Many churches have inns, pubs or taverns near them, for various historical social reasons both were deemed necessary for the functioning of small communities.  Some were even put up for the masons building the church.  Consider, masons were invariably itinerant workers and needed accommodation and sustenance.  In fact right next to this church there were once two pubs, one the Six Bells, in early times the headquarters of the bellringers.  The belltower was built in 1670 so the  pub might date from about this time, (source “A Walk through Lymington” Edward King, Kings of Lymington, 1972) has long since gone and the other (once called the Fighting Cocks, then Dorset Arms, then Champagne Charlie’s, then Lymington Tavern) was recently transformed into a surgery.  I don’t recall the church or church-goers petitioning for closure of  the Dorset Arms, Champagne Charlie’s as it became, or in its last nomenclature, The Lymington Tavern.  However I have read (Edward King again) that the Fighting Cocks was closed owing to its bad reputation by a Col. Hammersley in 1882, and only allowed to reopen if the name changed, hence the unimaginitive Dorset Arms.  The pubs probably closed because of economic failure, nothing to do with the church.

Site of the Fighting Cocks aka Dorset Arms

Site of the Fighting Cocks aka Dorset Arms, the redbrick building, showing proximity to church

Anyway Lymington has lost enough pubs.  The smoking ban, recession and changing social habits are putting remaining small pubs at risk.  Some say that the introduction of a Wetherspoon’s will be the final nail in the coffin for nearby small pubs.  I disagree, as a pub-goer, Wetherspoon’s does not particularly appeal.  Their establishments are more outlets than pubs, you cannot stand at the bar so the chances of striking up a conversation with a stranger or local or anyone else for that matter are slim.  If you go to a Wetherspoon’s take your own company or be prepared for a very short visit.  I lived in Colchester for a time and Wetherspoon opened an outlet in a one time theatre, then cinema, then bingo hall, it was alright but not for me, I went twice.  The only Wetherspoon I have remotely liked is the one at Liverpool Street Station (oddly in this one you could stand at the bar), it was heaving, bustling with City commuters and fun (for a short time).

The site of the defunct Bugle

The site of the defunct Bugle

I know that at the moment local watering holes are worried about their survival without there being a Wetherspoon’s, let alone with one.  I don’t think the introduction of a Wetherspoon’s outlet will affect them.  If we had a McDonalds (oh, how dare I suggest!),  I don’t think it would hurt the kebab house.

Kings Arms

Kings Arms - this would be the nearest pub to the proposed Wetherspoon

Lymington is a town that has lost quite lot of industry in the manual, semi-skilled and skilled sectors. First Wellworthy, piston ring manufacturer went, then Webbs, chicken processsor went, leaving tourism and marine industries the only hopeful industries left.  As a tourist town Lymington has a few chances but it will need to retain some hospitality venues.  It has lost at least ten since 1971 (list at end).  It has lost the Jack in the Basket café,  the Stone Cellar coffee bar  and the Spinnaker coffer bar (to be fair these went years ago).

Surprisingly Lymington has gained a 99p shop (in the defunct Woolworths premises).  I don’t know what the anti Argos lobby think of that.  One interesting point is that Wetherspoon would be a presence above the church.  It has long been said that it is harder for businesses to survive above the church in St Thomas Street, survival being easier in the High Street. Perhaps a Wetherspoon may help St Thomas Street’s businesses.

Pubs Lymington has had and lost.  ? denotes the fact that I don’t know when they closed, perhaps somebody can help on this.

Alarm Inn, Quay Hill?

The old Alarm, Quay Hill

The old Alarm, Quay Hill

The Albion, High St, on the site of present Masonic Hall?

Anchor and Hope (formerly The Crown), High St, where Santander is?

The old Anchor and Hope

The old Anchor and Hope

Brittania, Station St, now Brittania B&B?

The old Brittania

The old Brittania, now a b&b


The Bugle,High St, where the Halifax is?

Dorset Arms (formerly the Fighting Cocks, latterly Champagne Charlie’s and even later The Lymington Tavern), St Thomas St, closed within last ten years

Crown and Anchor, Captain’s Row, within last ten years

The old Crown and Anchor, Captain's Row

The old Crown and Anchor, Captain's Row, now apartments

The Dolphin, Quay St (I think)?

Dukes Head, Salterns, probably 1870

Greyhound, probably Gosport St?

The Harlequin, Bath Road?

The Hearts of Oak, Southampton Road?

The old Hearts of Oak

The old Hearts of Oak, Southampton Road

Isle of Wight Hoy, Gosport St, now Trafalgar house?

Londesborough Hotel, High St, now Boots’ opticians, also had a back bar in the bus station?

Millwrights Arms, Belmore Road, last licence issued Feb 7th 1915

Red Lion, aka White Lion, about 1998

The old Red Lion, Latterly called the White Lion

The old Red Lion, Latterly called the White Lion

Six Bells, St Thomas St by the church, closed Dec 28th 1911

Sloop, exact position not known, probably over the river?

Snowdrop, top of Station St, left side going down, junction of Gosport St, licence expired Jul 11th 1911

Solent Inn, Quay Hill, closed Feb 2nd 1939

The old Solent Inn

The old Solent Inn

The Star (formerly the Prince of Wales),left side of Cannon St going up at junction of Gosport St (Jewsons site possibly), closed Mar 8th 1934

The Swan, on Lymington Bridge,

Three Horseshoes, New St, site of the Lady’s Wing, Literary Institute, closed Aug 31st 1878 by order of court for harbouring a policeman (curious)

True Blue, site not identified?

Waltham Arms, 51 High St, closed Mar 11th 1943

William IV, latterly British Workman, the House after the Dolphin (Quay St I think)?

Waterloo Arms, formerly The Bricklayers, Priestlands Place, closed Dec 28th 1911

White Lion, 88 High St, where Klitz’s Muic Warehouse was, next to Boots?

The White Lion

The White Lion

There is a question mark in my mind over which building was Klitz’s music shop, site of the old White Lion, I think it is either Country Casuals or Stead and Simpson.  I should know I bought my first singles there (Please, Please Me)

Wheelwrights Arms, Waterloo Road?

Wheatsheaf, Gosport St next to Trafalgar precinct, still has the sign fitting?

The old Wheatsheaf, Gosport Street

The old Wheatsheaf, Gosport Street

Yacht Inn, (now Paul Jackson’s  Estate Agents, I think) on corner of Quay and Quay St, was across the Road from the Dolphin (now a souvenir shop I think)?

Pubs that have gone since I have been drinking legally (am now 61) are as follows:-



Crown and Anchor;

Redlion/Whitelion 1998 I think;

Anchor and Hope;

Londesborough Hotel and the Country Bar  at the rear;

The Bugle;

The Lymington Tavern (a.k.a. Dorset arms, Fighting Cocks, Champagne Charlie’s);

The Tap Bar  – Angel

The Hearts of Oak

The remaining or additional pubs are as follows:-

The Waggon and Horses, Undershore (going towards the WightLink ferry terminal)

Chequers, Woodside:

Fishermans Rest, Woodside,

Mayflower, Stanley Road;

Haven, Lymington Yachthaven  although it is semi-private, i.e. not on a public road;

The Ship, The Quay,

The Kings Head, Quay Hill;

The Bosuns Chair ex The Railway Hotel, Station Street;

Stanwell’s as a hotel bar therefore semi-private, High Street;

The Angel Hotel, High Street (it has lost its back bar the Tap  Bar then Blue Pig);

The Kings Arms, St Thomas Street;

The Fusion Inn, Queen Street, formerly the Black Cat  and Old English Gentleman;

The Thomas Tripp on the corner of Queen Street and Southampton Road is an addition as it was formerly a private residential hotel – The Anglesea;

The White Hart, Stanford Hill;

The Borough Arms, Avenue Road;

The Toll House, Southampton Road;

The Musketeers, North Street, Pennington;

The Sportsmans Arms, The Square Pennington;

The Wheel Inn, Sway Road – Ramley Road, Pennington;

Graze, Gosport Street, formerly Limpets, more of a cocktail bar  than a pub as it does not have much ale, if any, but has a full-on licence.

I have excluded restaurants, pizza outlets etc. on the basis that they may only have restaurant licences

I note a few pubs expired on Dec 28th 1911, I wonder why.

This information has been garnered from “A Walk through Lymington” (A Sentimental Journey) by Edward King, published by the bookshop and printers Kings of Lymington, 1972, that site is now Waterstones.





About Richard Stokes

Richard Stokes. Childhood spent in Milford-on-Sea. Now lives in Bridport (recent move). Educated in Art Schools - Winchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Worked as art administrator: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Midland Group, Nottingham; West Midlands Arts, Birmingham; Gateshead Garden Festival; Arts Council; Minories Art Gallery, Colchester; West Midland Arts. Also involved with the former Limpets Restaurant. Keen sailor.
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