The Cosy Nook cafe in Port Erin has been given a stay of execution by Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot, Gef looks at the history of this quirky historic building.
What is the Cosy Nook?
Today the Cosy Nook is a closed cafe which evokes childhood memories of train rides to Port Erin, sandcastles and Mini Milk ice lollies, but its history far predates that. Believed to have been built before 1840, the Cosy Nook was originally intended as a fisherman’s cottage and was owned by a family called the Watts. A second semi-detached cottage was added in 1877. As Juan Watterson SHK said: ‘Indeed, when considered in the context of the fishermen’s cottages, these represent a corner of Port Erin before the arrival of tourism and the railway.’ He said that the building ‘may be unique in the British Isles in its combination of heritage cottage building, outdoor beachside café, and location almost on the beach’. The building then changed hands several times in the 1800s, with William Milner (Milner’s Tower) and by 1891 it was bought by a GL Trustrum. It is during this period that it became a cafe, before being sold to Port Erin Commissioners in 1930. The cafe is then run by a succession of families and tenants right up until 2017 when Phil and Sue Maltby said a structural engineer had warned against using parts of the building.
Then what happened?
Since the Cosy Nook cafe closed, Port Erin Commissioners has submitted an application to replace it with a modern cafe/restaurant. An artist’s impression of the plans, show a large, three storey white building which it is proposed would serve as a daytime beach-side venue and a restaurant in the evening.
So what’s the problem?
Well put simply, the plans were met with a mixed response. Some people saw it as a modern development which would help secure Port Erin’s tourism future and provide dining facilities similar to the Sound cafe. However, others think the plan represents tearing down part of Port Erin’s history and replacing it with a modern building that is not in keeping with its surroundings.
What’s happening now?
Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot has issued a Building Preservation Notice which will protect the Cosy Nook for the short term from demolition. Importantly this does not mean the building will be registered but it does allow time for further investigations to be carried out. The government will now study the building with a view to the possibility of permanent protection.