A well-loved west Dorset village pub has been closed down, following ‘extortionate’ repayment costs.

The Clockhouse Inn, known as 'The Clock', on the A35 at Chideock closed its doors for the final time on Sunday, December 3.

The pub was destroyed in a devastating fire in 2015 but rose again from the ashes.

The owners cited 'quadrupled insurance,' rising loan repayments following the fire as well as loss of trade during Covid as reasons for the decision.

A post on social media signed Helen, Eric, Barbara, Jessica, Charlotte and Mike announced that "it is with great sadness and a heavy heart" that the pub was closing.

Helen Long has been a part-owner of the pub since 2002, and said that the decision was still ‘raw.’

After the fire the pub was rebuilt and refurbished, it led to rising costs that the owners were struggling to repay. This was one of the major factors leading to the closure.

Mrs Long said: “Personally the debt since the fire, as well as the increasing cost and insurance, has been no help at all - it’s been extortionate.

“The footfall has also dipped this year, it had not been the greatest summer.”

Reminiscing about some of the better memories, Mrs Long said: “Celebrations, birthdays, weddings - we’ve known staff since birth and have just watched the village grow up. It’s such a welcoming, lovely village.”

Talking about what is next for her in life, Mrs Long said: “The paramedic degree has always been my goal - that is my next step."

Mrs Long admitted that closing at this time wasn’t how she ‘wanted it to happen’, but said she has been planning things for Christmas and new year with many of her friends and locals which she is looking forward to.

Speaking about the future of the property, Mrs Long confirmed she was staying there ‘until everything is sorted’ but said she did not know what was next for the Clockhouse.

“We’d love someone to come in and keep the traditional pub side of it running,” she said.

To the many patrons of ‘The Clock’ over the years, Mrs Long said: “Thank you all for the support and love, and remember to keep it local and support local ventures, as without you guys this is what happens.

“It’s a lovely place, and such a shame for the residents as it’s been gutting - they’ve been more like a family."

This sudden closure has come after the Elm Tree Inn in Langton Herring closed late last month. 

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) National Chairman Nik Antona said: “The recent closure of the Clockhouse Inn is a sad blow for the Chideock community, but it is unfortunately reflective of the struggles of the licensed trade across the whole of the UK.  

“This is a make-or-break time for the trade. Pubs and the local breweries who serve them are still desperately trying to recover from the aftereffects of the pandemic, while also being hit by the perfect storm of simultaneous rising costs of goods and employing staff, plus customers continuing to tighten their belts due to the cost-of-living crisis. 

Mr Antona went on to say that the decision to extend discounts on business rates for pub in the Autumn Statement was a 'step in the right direction.' However, he wants to see 'more Government action' in the future to avoid further closures."

A spokesperson for the West Dorset branch of CAMRA said: "It's a reflection of the sad and hard times when any pub temporarily or permanently closes its doors. 

"Jobs are always lost and communities are often left with no central place to meet."

The spokesperson went on to say that these closures don't signal the end of pub culture in West Dorset. 

They said: "West Dorset continues to buck the national trend of closures. For example, modern purpose built pubs such as The Duchess of Cornwall and Poet Laureate in Poundbury, micro pubs like the Convivial Rabbit and Pursuit of Hoppiness as well as the reopening of closed pubs such as the Rivers Arms, Cheselborne and the Coach at Winterbourne. 

"Also taking into account most recently the new Pursuit of Poppiness in Brewery Square, Dorchester or the recently reopened Golden Lion. Weymouth. 

"The most positive thing to do is regularly visit your local pub not just at Christmas but throughout the year as Dorset has a fantastic range of pubs to cater for all."