VILLAGERS in Marshwood are going to try and buy historic The Bottle Inn.

The Australian owners have put the pub on the market and hope to get around £450,000.

The Bottle Inn, which dates from 1585, has been registered as a community asset – which means the community has the right to bid on it and then gets six months to come up with the money.

The historic inn, West Dorset’s Campaign for Real Ale pub of the year, has had a chequered – and not always successful – past.

It was closed for 18 months before Nigel and Chrissy Blake took it on – in January, 2011 it shut for the third time in less than two-and-a-half years, Owners Michael and Pauline Brookes said: “Our licensed property specialists who know The Bottle Inn well, have advised us that with the exceptional character and history of The Bottle Inn, and because of its location and accompanying land and outbuildings, the premises have enormous potential.

“Similar, or even not so well endowed freehold public houses in Dorset and Somerset are fetching up to £475,000.

“We have therefore been advised to seek a minimum of £450,000, which is what we shall do.”

Village spokesman Mark Van de Weyer said the decision had already been made to try and buy the 16th century inn. He said: “The price is higher than I would have expected but we are encouraged that the owners are making contact.”

He said with its land and outbuildings there were opportunities to develop community uses.

He added: “The planners seem very keen to talk about ways you could develop it further.

“Marshwood doesn’t have a village hall but all the outbuildings could mean community facilities.

“There is also uncertainty about the village shop, the guy is nearly 80 and thinking of retiring. “If it didn’t prove possible to keep the shop where it is the Bottle could be an alternative.”

The meeting in the pub on March 3 at 7.30pm is to decide how to proceed.

He said: “We are determined to make sure it survives as it has been doing well.”