THE Ilfracombe Wetherspoons pub is on track to open in spring and will be an iconic landmark in the town, according to one of the site’s architects.
The Admiral Collingwood, which was named by Journal readers in a public vote, is being built on Wilder Road and is due to open on April 22.
Architect Paul Harrison said the pub’s design was inspired by a seashell and will add something “unique and dynamic” to the town.
The pub will have a large patio on the first floor and serve food and drink.
Mr Harrison said: “The design was borne out of the site’s position close to the sea and the concept is a seashell. The whole thing revolves around the domed roof.”
The pub will stand out from surrounding buildings, according to the architect.
He said: “We could have gone for something to fit with what’s there already but we didn’t feel that was appropriate.
“We’ve gone for something unique and dynamic.”
Mr Harris said the Admiral Collingwood would seat 500 people, adding: “The whole emphasis at Wetherspoons has moved towards food and that has informed the design.
“I was there on Friday and it’s exciting because Wetherspoons don’t do many new builds.
“It’s going to be iconic and hopefully promote more interest and activity in Ilfracombe.”
Site manager Karl Adams said work was proceeding well, despite the bad weather, and the pub was on track to open in April. He said: “The ground floor will be the main bar and the top will be the patio for drinking. The weather slowed us down a bit because everything turns to sludge but things are going as planned.”
Some Ilfracombe pub landlords have expressed concerns they will lose business when the pub opens.
Councillor Mike Edmunds said: “Any investment in Ilfracombe is good and hopefully we’ll see further investment in pubs in Ilfracombe.
“There are three closed pubs on Ilfracombe High Street and that’s got nothing to do with Wetherspoons. A lot of pubs in Ilfracombe rely on the traditional pub activities like skittles and darts, but Wetherspoons focuses more on food, so I might be more concerned if I was a cafe.”
However, pub landlords and bar staff have expressed mixed feelings about the opening of the Admiral Colingwood.
While some anticipate the pub drawing more drinkers to Ilfracombe, others worry they will lose customers.
Royal Brittania landlord Richard Wheeler feared Ilfracombe pubs would be negatively affected.
He said: “Even if every pub loses 10% of its business that’s a big decline.
“Then again maybe it’s good for the town – more choice.”
Buddies owner Trevor Yeo said he was happy about the opening.
He said: “There’s very little money in Ilfracombe.
“Anything that brings money in is a good thing but Ilfracombe is a desolate place in the winter so it might struggle.”
Sandpiper landlord Kevin Prideaux said: “I’m trying to stay positive – I’m hoping it will bring a lot of business in here.
“But it will take business away from the High Street, which is struggling already.”
Mr Prideaux said a lot of drinkers in the town were “price conscious” and expressed “slight concerns” about whether his business would suffer when it opened.
Lisa Burton is a barmaid at the Seahorse, where a pint of Carling costs £2.80.
She said: “If it’s too cheap it could be a disaster because everyone’s going to go for the cheapest they can get.
“It depends on the atmosphere as well. We’ve got a good atmosphere here so hopefully we won’t be affected.”