Ten years ago today on 24 March 2011, the Pandora Inn suffered a devastating fire. It made the news across the country and was even reported overseas – such is the popularity of this iconic Cornish inn.
Immediately after the news broke, the pub’s Facebook page and email account were deluged with messages of sorrow and support from people for whom the Pandora Inn meant something special. Memories of engagements, birthday parties, and friends long departed were retold and remembered from people across the globe. We were immensely touched.
The whole of the first floor of the ancient inn was destroyed and only a few charred timbers remained. No one was hurt and once the shock of the fire had subsided, it became apparent that the blaze had given the owners an opportunity to give the Pandora a ‘quality’ facelift. With its Grade II listing, the Pandora could only be restored with traditional materials and building methods. The building was completely re-thatched and the chimneys re-built so that the all-important log fires could ensure a warm welcome for customers again.
The first-floor dining room was transformed into a stunning vaulted room with traditionally pegged green oak beams. John Milan and Steve Bellman, who have been at the helm of the Pandora since 1999 were determined that the Pandora’s history was faithfully recorded. Two windowsills, scorched and blackened, have been retained and a small section of burnt beam has been carefully mounted on the ceiling alongside its modern replacement. These damaged sections serve as reminders of what has been lost.
Since we re-opened, we have come back stronger and better and have picked up an impressive array of awards. In our first year back in business in 2012, we won the Tourism Pub of the Year category at the South West Tourism Awards, Cornwall Tourism Awards Pub of the Year Gold Award, and Cornwall Life Food & Drink Awards Best Country Pub of the Year – and we’ve just kept going! A particular high point was in 2015 we won a Bronze Award in the Tourism Pub of the Year category at the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.
Over the past decade, our team, led by managers Catherine and Lester Croft has done a fantastic job of maintaining the highest levels of quality and service and we have again won Gold in the ‘Pub of the Year’ category in the Cornwall Tourism Awards. “This is our fourth consecutive win and brings our tally of Gold awards to eight in total in the last ten years,” says Steve Bellman.
Today, many of our customers have no idea that the Pandora was ever damaged by fire – it looks just as it did before. Ten years after that dreadful day on 24 March 2021, it feels as if we have all been through disaster yet again with the impact of the Coronavirus. The Pandora has been closed for almost as long as it was after the fire. But the fire of 2011 and the impact of Coronavirus are just the latest chapters in the very long life of the Pandora Inn… and we look forward to welcoming you again very soon!