RELATIONSHIPS between Lyme Regis and its close neighbour Uplyme have been a bit strained of late, which may be the understatement of the year.
Things have always been a bit tetchy between the two communities going back a number of years, stoked by the opposition across the border to the development of the Strawberry Field as a new home for Lyme Regis Football Club.
And the recent spat over the Sidmouth Road park and ride site, which sits in Uplyme parish, has prompted a good deal of comment on social media and has not helped matters.
I have never been very popular in Uplyme, nor the papers I have edited over the years, and as the main instigator of the Strawberry Field project I took a good deal of personal criticism from a few residents of Uplyme parish. On the occasion I turned up at Uplyme war memorial to cover the Remembrance ceremony I was approached in a very aggressive manner by one of the village’s more high profile residents and told in no uncertain terms: “We don’t want people like you here.”
Before I could reply, Dr Andrew Llewellyn jumped in and told the person in question to leave the area immediately.
All water under the bridge now but I’m still a bit wary when attending any events in Uplyme and never hang around too long.
But in my early days as a cricketer I spent many happy hours in Uplyme and its two pubs. Some old sores were opened this week when an appeal went out to the sporting fraternity of Lyme Regis to help save the cricket club at Uplyme with comments such as “why should we help Uplyme when Uplyme opposed the Strawberry Field and Sidmouth Road park and ride?” prevalent on Facebook.
Setting the park and ride issue to one side (a truce has been called on this one), there is a good reason why we should help the cricket club – because it’s Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club. I well remember when that decision was made and it was a move that probably saved the club when it was at a low ebb. At the time there were a few mutterings from the Uplyme diehard but history will show it was the right decision and the club has enjoyed many happy and successful years since.
In fact, if there’s anywhere where Uplyme and Lyme get on well it’s on the cricket field. I’m not alone in saying that most of my sporting friendships which have stood the test of time were forged on the cricket field at Uplyme, friendships which I value to this day.
So it was encouraging to see that the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, and Uplyme Parish Council’s chairman Chris James, have put what issues they may have as leaders of their respective councils to one side to endorse the efforts to save the cricket club from folding. It would be appropriate to note here that Lyme Regis Town Council has given the cricket club more than £6,000 in recent years.
I was one of a number of people from Lyme who turned up at the cricket club on Monday evening to hear chairman Ian Thomas explain why the club’s future is under the microscope because a sum of around £4,000 had to be raised by the end of the season to complete the purchase of a new roller, an essential piece of kit for any cricket club. The response was encouraging and a fundraising campaign is up and running – in Uplyme and Lyme Regis.
Both Councillors Ellis and James are determined that the two councils should work together in the future for the benefit of both communities.
Together with a few ex-players from the 1970s and 80s, I am helping to organise a reunion night at Lyme Regis Football Club on August 23 with comedian Jimmy Quinn to raise money for the cricket club fundraising campaign. It will be one of those occasions when we will revel in recalling all the good times we had whilst playing for Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club during its halcyon days – and prove that the two communities can work in harmony.
What would Jack Vincent think of the new Pilot Boat?
AS I was being given a guided tour of the new-look Pilot Boat Inn in Lyme Regis this week, I could not help thinking what former landlord Jack Vincent would think about his pub.
It’s a far cry from the old Pilot which Jack and his wife Margaret ran during my batchelor years. In those days we all had our favourite pub – and I was definitely a Pilot Boat man.
Jack was one of those landlords who ran a no nonsense boozer, very popular with visitors in the summer, but a real locals’ pub as well. Food was not a priority in those days and fruit machines and especially juke boxes were a definite no-no.
I recall that on one occasion when Jack and Margaret were on holiday fellow landlord Joe O’Donnell from The Ship Inn ordered him a juke box and when he returned the place was heaving and very noisy!
These were the days when there was a garage at the rear of the pub (later turned into The Inn Plaice function room) which housed a rather delapidated caravan where Jack’s stuttering gofer F..F..Fred lived. They say that when the caravan was removed and set on fire it burned for several weeks.
But Jack was an astute businessman and I think he would look at today’s ultra-chic Pilot Boat and think there’s a few bob to be made here.
I was shown around the Pilot Boat by new licensee Robin Collyns and his wife Angela, both highly experienced in the hospitality trade who are running the business with their son Ben, the general manager, and daughter Ellie. They are delighted with the response so far to their new business venture but appreciate the challenge of running such a big pub and restaurant (they have a total of 185 covers) during Lyme’s long winter months.
That’s why they are anxious to make sure the Pilot Boat emerses itself in the community life of Lyme, particularly in the winter, as happened in Jack and Margaret’s day and especially so when the Pilot was run by Billy and Caroline Wiscombe so successfully for many years.
Whilst Palmers Brewery has taken a great deal of criticism in recent years about the state of the Three Cups Hotel in Broad Street, the refurbishment of the Pilot, including three superbly appointed bedrooms, has taken a significant investment, together with the former Angel Inn which has been converted into staff accommodation. We should also recognise that the Pilot has become the town’s biggest private enterprise employer providing 50 jobs in the summer, 20 of which will be permanent.
I wish the Collyns family every success. The Pilot will certainly add to Lyme’s growing reputation as a foodies’ paradise and the town now looks forward to a start being made on the long-awaited plans for the Three Cups to remove such an eyesore from our main street.
Thumbs up for daredevil Ania
THE smile on her face says it all – “I did it”. To celebrate her 70th birthday and raise money for her favourite charity, the Royal British Legion, Church Street resident Ania Driver completed a jump with the Army’s crack free-fall parachute team, The Red Devils.
Ania, a former Royal Navy Nurse, decided to take on the challenge in memory of her late husband Terry, who served in the Royal Marines, despite a fear of heights. She also went on a crash diet so she was fit enough to jump with the Red Devils at Brize Norton on Tuesday.
There to see her land safely were Royal British Legion branch chairman Ian Marshall, vice-chairman Pete Ward and their wives Annemarie and Jackie. I’m told Ania was naturally apprehensive before the jump but elated after she landed and walked back from the jump zone with a huge beaming smile and a glass of bubbly waiting for her to celebrate.
And the cream on the cake for Ania’s big day was that her bravery raised £1,000 for the Royal British Legion.