A much-loved, historic village pub could reopen in April, more than a year after it was purchased by a couple of pub enthusiasts.
Tessa and Julian Blundy are in their late 60s and have a passion for pubs. They took on the Bottle Inn in Marshwood last February, after it had been closed for four years and faced an uphill battle to refurbish and restore it after the previous owner had gutted it.
Plans to get the work done in a few months were hit by bad weather, but now they are expecting new windows to arrive this week, a new slate roof during January, thatch in February and a flat roof in March.
Tessa said: “We can then complete the repairs inside and should be ready to open in April if all goes smoothly.”
Plans for the Grade 2 listed inn were recently approved by Dorset Council, including thatching, windows and doors, solar panels and the removal of chimney stack.
Tessa is a conservation architect and Julian a retired carpenter. Between them they have saved two other pubs from being turned into homes.
Their plan is once the pub is restored to make the function room available for village events and re-establish the shop.
Tessa previously told The West Dorset Magazine: “We would not open the Bottle as a gastropub – we are trying to retain an old fashioned pub as a community hub.”
The Bottle Inn had looked so run down people feared it was lost forever.
When the Blundys bought it, everything was damaged – roofs, windows, walls, electrics, plumbing and drainage.
And there was a huge amount of rubbish to remove.
The inn’s most recent claim to fame was holding the nettle eating contests each year. The contest is now held by Dorset Nectar Cider.
It has been an ale house since 1585. By the late 19th century it had become the Bottle Inn, named because it was one of the first in the area to sell bottled beer.
The Bottle Inn was purchased as a free house from Ushers Brewery in 1982 by Michael and Pauline Brookes. In 2014, they won CAMRA’s West Dorset pub of the year. It closed in 2020 and over the next three years fell into disrepair, with ‘urban explorers’ breaking in to film there for their YouTube channel on abandoned buildings.
Mrs Brookes had moved abroad and proved hard to contact, making it difficult for the Blundys to agree the sale, but they finally reached an agreement last February.
With all these obstacles now behind them, work to reopen the inn is now reinvigorated.
Tessa said once the renovations are complete they will be looking for someone to run it.