Sidmouth author traces history of town’s old coffee shops

Nostalgic look at Sidmouth’s oldest coffee houses

SIDMOUTH historical author John Ankins has re-issued his popular book Sidmouth Yesterday’s Shops, this time with a colour cover and added details to bring information up-to-date.

This week Nostalgia hands over the reins to John to write about two of the earliest coffee shops in Sidmouth that both feature in the book, which is on sale at Paragon Books for �14.99.

He writes: The building in Fore Street, now under the name of Mountain Warehouse, was in 1854 The Sidmouth Institution.

On Monday, February 16, 1880, a large and influential meeting was held at the vicarage to consider whether a coffee tavern could be established in the town.

After several meetings it was decided to rent this building. A Joint Stock Company was formed and it was decided to spend �30 for repairs to the outside of the building, and alterations to be made to the interior.

The front room was fitted with a counter and requirements of a refreshment room. The old cottage adjoining it at the back was made into one large room, and a new floor and large window was added.

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The room at the back was made into a kitchen and scullery. There was a large room upstairs for reading and writing.

The cost of the alterations and furniture amounted to about �120. It opened as the Coffee Tavern in January 1881, 6am to 10pm. Mr George Macke was the manager.

As The Old Coffee Tavern it was run by Mr and Mrs William (Bill) Skinner in 1892. Robert George Hucker was running it as refreshment rooms by 1919 and then Ernest Hucker in 1926. By 1935 it was Mrs Hucker’s Caf� and Commercial Hotel.

The next name change was to Magnolia Caf� in August 1950, then it reverted to the old name – The Old Coffee Tavern – in 1966.

It was then The Restaurant and later bought by Mr Sambati in 1968. This closed in the early ‘70s and reopened as Knights Vanity Fayre, before assuming it latest persona as Mountain Warehouse last year.

The building next to Kings Lane, also in Fore Street, was High Hall, built by Mr Denby in the mid 1800s. The house was made into a caf� by Edwin Grove Trump and opened on August 30, 1901, becoming Trumps Caf� and Restaurant in September 1910 on the second and third floors and a cake and sweet shop on the ground floor.

Trumps had their own bakery in Old Fore Street.

In 1931 it changed owners, to Forte’s (Devon) Ltd., Restaurant and Caf�. In 1937 it became the Caf� de Luxe, G Forte.

In the 60’s it was The House of Tedbury and in 1968 as a caf� and dairy with a self-service buffet.

Next it became The Tavern, then Legends and now The New Tavern.