Breathing new life into The Steam Packet as cafe bar

ONE of the oldest pubs in Topsham has been saved from the hands of developers by a resident. After shutting its pumps for what looked like the last time in November last year, the Steam Packet Inn, in Monmouth Hill, faced the grim future of being turned into flats.

ONE of the oldest pubs in Topsham has been saved from the hands of developers by a resident.After shutting its pumps for what looked like the last time in November last year, the Steam Packet Inn, in Monmouth Hill, faced the grim future of being turned into flats.Owner of the Globe Hotel Liz Hodges stepped in to save the unique history of the pub by turning it into a cafe-bar.The new cafe-bar, its name still under wraps, plans to open at the end of March complete with cafe, home-made food and with an alcohol licence.The premises, which is planned to open from 8am to 8pm, will also have three hotel apartments above the bar.She said: "We are trying to regenerate the pub and improve people's experience in this end of town. It was a traditional pub for many years but it was hard hit after the smoking ban."Everyone in the town is very happy that it's going to continue being a business - the whole town is very excited and everyone has been fantastic at helping us."Ms Hodges also has plans to introduce a bicycle hire facility, available when the cafe-bar opens, and bicycle repairs on the premises, during the summer.She said: "Because we are on the cycle route and haven't got a cycle shop this seemed perfect - to get bikes repaired people need to get in their car and go to Exeter, defeating the purpose."The Steam Packet Inn, which first opened in 1844, is Topsham's second oldest pub and was originally called the Red Lion.At one time the pub was also a brewery and had two skittle alleys. It was christened The Steam Packet in 1850 after the popular steam packet Zephyr that called at Topsham as part of its journey between Torquay and London.Following the Steam Packet's most recent landlord, Barry Stock, retiring, Heavitree breweries sold the pub to Liz Hodges for �500,000.


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