In 1920, there was a row of three town houses and a corner shop, no's 42, 44, 45 and 46 Bonhay Road, opposite the station, although they were renumbered as 113 to 116 Bonhay Road by 1934. Albert Appleby with his wife Laura, saw the potential for a hotel and purchased the houses and shop. He converted them into the St David's Family and Commercial Hotel. This was one of several temperance hotels that were opened in the city. The temperance movement was mostly driven by women who wanted to see an end to drunkenness and disorderly behaviour. Hotels and halls were opened without bars and alcohol was banned.
In 1939, Albert Appleby had the hotel demolished and a new, modern style hotel built in its place with a new name, Windsor Hotel. Influenced by International Modernism, with a touch of art deco detailing, one can see the influence of the 1932, High Cross House by William Lescaze, at Dartington. The design is distinctly modern for the time with its clean lines, flat roof and horizontal windows. Striking features are the vertical columns and windows over the main entrance, in a simple, art deco influenced style. A leading influence in Devon on modern architecture were the Elmhurst's at Dartington who were responsible for commissioning High Cross House. They also took in the architect, Walter Gropius from the Bauhaus when he left Germany in the 1930's, so it is hardly surprising that such advanced ideas in architectural design were tried in other parts of the region.
It had 26 bedrooms, all with hot and cold running water and central heating. The building ran late and the hotel opened in rather a hurry. This was not a good time to open a new hotel as war was declared on 3rd September 1939. During the war it was used as No 13 Police Control Point while the upper floor was used as quarters for officers from the 504 Squadron flying Hurricanes, based at the airport.
In February 1980 a fire destroyed the south wing (right hand side on photo). A pile of linen stacked on a first floor landing had caught fire, leading to 29 guests being led to safety. Fire brigade enquiries did not confirm a cause. The Hotel Windsor was eventually renamed Chuffers in 1985 to revive its flagging fortunes, with a railway theme in the bar. It eventually closed in the early 1990's, was purchased by the University as a hostel and renamed Bonhay House.
St Davids Hotel in the 1930's.
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