THOMAS Hollis is set to be formerly acknowledged as a significant figure in Lyme’s history.
He has been dubbed the ‘town’s saviour and benefactor’, buying up prominent parts of Lyme Regis in the 18th century and securing them for the people.
Hollis experts John Dover and Peter Lacey have called on Lyme Regis Town Council to establish a lasting and prominent memorial to him.
They told members of the Tourism and Economic Development Committee last week about his contribution.
Mr Dover said: “Last year with the Olympics there was very much the focus on legacy. I think with Thomas Hollis and where Lyme Regis is concerned, here we have a good example of legacy that is moving well beyond 260 years.
“In the mid 18th century Lyme was struggling and along came Thomas Hollis.”
The wealthy philanthropist, who was highly connected with the leading gentry, promoted tourism as the town’s salvation.
Among his contributions, he bought and lived in the former Three Cups Inn and offered the first Assembly Rooms and bathing machine, bought Bowling Green House and attached bowling green and donated it to Lyme Corporation, and rebuilt Cobb Gate.
Mr Lacey said: “It’s never been acknowledged that he was a man that was the catalyst and cornerstone of the Lyme we have today.”
They said he is revered in America, where he is honoured for his benefactions to Harvard University.
Mr Dover said acknowledging Hollis in the town would re-establish links with the university and draw American visitors to the town.
Coun Rikey Austin said: “We are not very good in Lyme Regis at promoting these special links we do have. This is a good time to celebrate all the heritage links we do have.”
Councillors said it would be an opportunity to create a permanent display of all the town’s significant historical figures.
It was suggested that a timeline of milestones in the town’s history, including important people, could be set up in the Marine Parade Shelters Jubilee Pavilion.
Wayne Bradbury, secretary of the Lyme Regis Hotels and Restaurants Association, said: “The vast majority of visitors are not going to read a history book but would like it laid out in bitesize chunks.”