Anger as National Trust seeks to replace Britain’s oldest beach cafe with ‘burger van’

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The National Trust has come under fire over its plans to demolish the oldest beach cafe in Britain and replace it with a “burger van”.

Visitors to Middle Beach in Studland, Dorset, have been able to stop for a hot drink and food for almost 120 years. 

But on January 2 it will close for good as part of the National Trust’s “managed retreat” strategy to coastal erosion.

Despite the building being 50ft back and 20ft above the shoreline, the Trust insists it is vulnerable to erosion.

Rather than shore up the sea defences to protect the cafe from any threat of ever falling into the sea, the organisation will demolish it.

In its place the Trust has proposed a temporary mobile catering hut set further back in the car park.

Newly unveiled plans of what the new facility will look like have not gone down well with local residents and visitors.

‘The old cafe was perfect’

Andrew Parsons, a local parish councillor and retired civil engineer, said: “Their plan replaces a beautiful historic cafe with a million dollar view with a shed in a car park.

“I know it’s temporary but the cafe shouldn’t be being demolished in the first place.

“Whatever they decide to permanently build after will be in their vision of the world, the old cafe was perfect.”

Martin Williams, who lives nearby in Swanage, said: “Getting rid of a well used, working cafe and replacing it with this is disgraceful.

“Our NT membership will not be renewed.”

Sharon Stanley said: “Bring back Middle Beach Cafe serving good reasonably priced food and hot drinks with friendly service instead of this proposed monstrosity.”

Beverley Jane posted on social media upon seeing the plans: “FFS, that’s a burger van.”

Another local resident said: “So it’s a trailer with some portaloos. Well done, National Trust. You’re closing a lovely institution and replacing it with something that looks as if it belongs in a layby.”

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