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Nigel Way


- A CHAPTER ENDS


“I don’t want to hang my boots up just yet. I do feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders - I am back to loving life.”


L


ast month, it was an- nounced that Nigel and Anne Way had sold the Roy- al Castle Hotel (Dartmouth)


and Royal Seven Stars (Totnes) to the St Austell Brewery, the latter being a privately owned £180m business, brewing and selling beer to over 20 countries and operat- ing nearly 200 pubs and hotels. The Way family and the Royal


Castle Hotel have played a central role in Dartmouth life since they first bought the hotel 37 years ago, adding the Royal Seven Stars 15 years ago, the Luttrell Arms in Dunster in 2012 and most recently The Anchor Hotel in Porlock Weir, Somerset only last year. Nigel spoke exclusively to Mark Simpson about the closing of a chapter for him personally but perhaps a new one for the town as well.


“Once we decided to sell, we soon realised that we would be unlikely to find a private buyer – either


because few individuals could afford to buy two hotels, or if they did, they would be bought either as a vanity project or the business would be milked dry. Neither of those scenarios would be good for Dartmouth and nor did they sit easily with us. We think, however, we have found the best type of


corporate buyer who seems to share many of the same values and recognises the unique nature of these hotels. I don’t think that St Austell


Breweries will want to homogenise the hotels or subsume their unique identities into a corporate brand which we often see happening in other towns, although I fear that this is the direction that Dartmouth overall is going. Surprisingly, JD Wetherspoons expressed an inter- est – we looked at their approach carefully but felt that to sell to them would be unfair to the other Dartmouth pubs that are just about hanging on. I suppose if they had offered a lot more money then that would have been more of a difficult decision! I still live in Dartmouth and plan


to do so for a long time yet – I want to be able to walk about the town not having to make excuses for what a new owner may or may not do. I want to hold my head high – I have always encouraged my staff to


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