A HISTORIC Weymouth pub will close its doors for the final time today.
Landlady Sally Dunn will pour her last pint at The Albert Inn after eight years spent running the popular village venue.
The Grade II-listed building at the heart of old Wyke Regis has been sold and many residents fear it may never open as a pub again.
Eyebrows were raised by members of the West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) when they noticed it was being offered for sale by Punch Taverns with ‘potential for residential conversion and development’.
Mrs Dunn leased the pub out from Punch and ran it alongside her husband Derek, daughter Leanne Rowland-Bright and her son-in-law Liam Bright.
The 60-year-old, who lives next door to the pub, said: “It is a great, friendly little community pub. The customers are lovely and I want to thank Wyke Regis for its support. It just got quieter and quieter like all local pubs so I decided to leave in October 2012.”
She told the Echo that the decision to leave prompted Punch to put the building up for sale due to it being not ‘commercially viable’.
“The trouble is that there are people who talk about the pub but don’t drink here.
“They don’t want to lose it but they’re not using it,” she said.
The dedicated landlady served her six-month notice period but then agreed to stay on until a buyer was found.
She added: “We tried to stay open for as long as we could.
“It may not open as a pub again.”
The Localism Act contains a provision to list pubs and other community ‘essentials’, giving protection against change of use applications.
CAMRA tried to get the Albert listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ but the request was refused by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and then rejected again when campaigners appealed the decision.
Around 300 pubs across the UK have been listed as ACVs by local authorities, including the Bottle Inn at Marshwood in West Dorset.
The reason given is that there is another pub in Wyke, the Smugglers, providing ‘similar social value to the local community’ 0.7km away.
The Albert Inn, off Wyke Square, has been a pub for 160 years.
West Dorset CAMRA chairman Dave Harris said: “It was the fear that this historic pub would be lost to Wyke village, that made us apply to register the Albert as an Asset of Community Value.
“So if this sale results in a redevelopment without a pub, then Wyke village will have suffered a grave loss of amenity.”
A spokesman for Punch Taverns said: “Following a review of our estate, a decision was taken to sell the Albert Inn as it was not commercially viable.
“We are currently in legals and expect to exchange contracts shortly with a potential buyer.”
RESIDENTS and pub users in Wyke Regis have told of their fears that The Albert Inn has been sold for residential development.
Pub user and resident Chris Buckley said: “The pub has been up for sale for years and has finally been sold but no one knows who to or even if it will be a pub.
“It’s the last one in the village and we are worried it will become a block of flats.”
Colin Colebrooke added: “The current landlady has kept it open, at a loss for the last two years to try and keep it a pub. She and her team have done an excellent job in a very demanding period.
“It will be a huge shame for a village like Wyke Regis to lose its last pub.
“In my lifetime there used to be the Masons Arms, The Swan Inn, the Mermaid Inn and the Albert Inn as well as the Wyke Regis Social Club.
“All the successful teams from the Albert are having to relocate to the Wyke Regis Social Club.”