Historic Old Portsmouth club reveals fear it may have had to sell Grade II listed building to developer due to Covid-19 'financial losses'

A CLUB that counts Scott of the Antarctic and round-the-world yachtsman Sir Alec Rose among its former members considered selling to a developer due to financial losses.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:55 am

Bosses at the historic Grade II-listed Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club in Old Portsmouth said they considered the sale after the pandemic hit plans to draw in new members.

Some £50,000 was spent on the front of the Pembroke Road building, and the rooms in the first and ground floors, in the hope of boosting income.

‘The expectation (was) that these measures would quickly increase our business and our finances,’ chairman Keith Toomey told councillors at a recent meeting.

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The Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club. Picture: Shaun Roster Photography

‘But it was not to be. The pandemic came just as we were ready to launch the new club, and that gave us significant financial losses.’

The four-storey club suffered a further £19,000 loss after all but one tenant in the second-floor offices moved out when a lifeline planning bid to convert the offices into flats was submitted to Portsmouth City Council last year.

Mr Toomey said the club also ‘desperately’ needs to modernise fire precautions, and spend between £30-40,000 on the back of the building.

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The club drew up three options to generate cash, Mr Toomey said. ‘We had three options... a boutique hotel that would give us income all of the time and which all our profit is spent on the building.

‘The other one is the three apartments we’re discussing today, and our third option if we can’t do these, we would have to sell to a developer.

‘It would be a very prestigious building for a developer to develop.

‘At the moment this is no longer crucial for me, and the board, and the club – but it’s critical.’

After Mr Toomey told councillors the building was ‘the most significant and attractive building in Old Portsmouth’ they granted planning permission for the flats.

The nine-bedroom hotel plans have been submitted and are still being considered.

Mr Toomey said the building was ‘very dilapidated’ when he became involved 20 years ago but had improved.

The club has 19 former Victoria Cross recipients among its members, along with Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Scott, sailor Sir Alec and First World War naval commander Admiral John Jellicoe.

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