Shed a tear. The Dolphin in Grampound, Cornwall, is up for sale by St Austell Brewery after 102 years as a tied pub. Lord knows I’ve had some memorable times there, sipping Cornish Rattler, Tribute Ale or Proper Job with family who live in the village.
I’m often drawn to an intriguing black-and-white photograph mounted on the wall: a group of sinister-looking children, culled from a John Wyndham novel maybe, in smocks and shorts, standing on the steep dirt road outside the pub in 1921 and staring into the camera as if to ask: what are you looking at?
These days, Grampound, which lies on the A390 about halfway between St Austell and Truro, has about 650 souls, and for the past few years its only shop has been a community-run general store, albeit an exceptionally well-stocked one.
Similarly The Dolphin is the village’s last pub (it once had six) and has therefore been designated an Asset of Community Value, meaning that anyone wanting to turn it into flats will have a struggle on their hands.
Yet, unsurprisingly, locals fear the worst. At a recent sing-song around the pub piano – which was accompanied by the sweet strains of Tarquin’s Cornish fruit gin and tonic – there was brave talk that perhaps a buyer would be found; someone who had an interest in craft ale and locally sourced food: after all, Grampound is on the main road, the pub has a car park out the back and there is another by the school nearby. Dreams of a bypass have been shelved in anticipation of the age of the electric car; and there is already a microbrewery and a cider press in the village.
Moreover – stop me if my motives are becoming transparent – it could be described as a “fixer-upper”. Many a holidaymaker has gazed leisurely around, and wondered if there are stone flags beneath the Dolphin’s swirling carpets or sturdy brick behind the panelling. I for one would love to find out. Fingers crossed.
Fore Street, Grampound, Truro, TR2 4RR 01726 882435; staustellbrewery.co.uk