Business leaders in Weymouth say the restoration of the Rectory town centre building is ‘excellent news’ and are ‘thrilled’ - as a potential use for the building has emerged.

The Echo exclusively revealed that the historic 18th century property on St Thomas Street is to be restored to its ‘former glory’ after being bought by a local property developer.

DJ Property has bought the building along with the shop unit next door, which was used to be the Body Shop many years ago.

The Grade II listed building had been derelict since 2013 following the abrupt closure of The Clipper, the most recent business to operate out of the Georgian era building.

Since the news broke that the building is to be renovated and restored, a potential use for the building has emerged.

Whilst nothing has been officially confirmed, there are ongoing talks about the building formerly known as The Old Rectory, becoming a Jurassic Coast museum and centre.

Dorset Echo: DJ Property has bought the Rectory building and the adjacent shop premiseDJ Property has bought the Rectory building and the adjacent shop premise (Image: Andy Jones)

President of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, Paul Appleby, is delighted with the news the building has been purchased and is also pleased that a local firm has taken ownership of the site.

He said: “This is excellent news for the town for many reasons, not least that the historic building is being brought back to use by a local developer with an excellent track record. It also shines a light on Weymouth town's investability.

“Whatever its future purpose, I hope the building's character is preserved and its town position is used to its best advantage.”

The Jurassic Coast Trust (JCT) has previously expressed its interest in bringing a museum to Weymouth to increase the access and long-term security for fossils from the Jurassic Coast, which are currently held in private collections.

Dorset Echo: HISTORIC: A fossil in Lyme Regis

As reported, the trust had revealed that construction works could get underway for an unknown site in the town within a two-year period and at an estimated cost of £5 million.

It has now be confirmed that the Rectory building is their desired location, however, the JCT is awaiting the approval of funding and at this stage the trust wishes to manage expectations, but it is a ‘possibility’.

Lucy Culkin, chief executive of the JCT said: “The JCT will not be releasing any further information at this stage.

“As previously advised, In December 2023, JCT completed a feasibility study into the creation of a potential new World Heritage Visitor Centre and Museum on the Jurassic Coast, with Weymouth being identified as a possible location.

“We have been talking to a developer in Weymouth about a potential property which could be suitable for this centre, this location is the Rectory. 

“At this stage, we have not yet secured funding which will allow us to progress to the next stages of this work.” 

Weymouth’s Business Improvement District (BID) is also ‘pleased’ that the building is to be renovated and if the Jurassic Coast museum plans do materialise, it believes it will add ‘another great attraction’ to the town.  

Dawn Rondeau-Irvine, chief operations officer at We Are Weymouth (BID), said: "We are pleased that the Old Rectory Grade II listed building which has remained empty since 2013 is being renovated by DJ Property.

"The building holds a great deal of memories for locals and visitors whether as Barracuda or more recently The Clipper.

"With talks underway to turn the building into a vibrant centre at the heart of the Jurassic coast, we really hope this comes to fruition, providing another great attraction for the town.

"We are thrilled about the potential for Weymouth to become a vibrant centre for food, shopping, arts and culture in the coming years as we see an influx of private investment in the town, giving historic buildings a new lease of life."