In 1917 the last of the resident Heaven family, Walter, was forced by his creditors to sell Lundy. At the time the Island was badly run-down and its buildings mostly in disrepair. Christie’s offer of £15,000 was considered generous.
Christie’s approach to Island ownehip was totally professional. Firstly he employed a surveyor to assess what investment was required. His solicitors were instructed to clarify the Island’s legal status, especially regarding taxation, and the farm was leased to a successful North Devon farmer Mr Herbert May.
Unlike the Heavens Christie saw the business potential of encouraging visitors. He started by converting the Manor Farm into a hotel, established a “Refreshments Room” for day-trippers and purchased the Lerina as a supply boat which was licensed to carry 12 passengers.
To improve access he had the breakwater and quay constructed in the Landing Bay and what are now known as the Montagu Steps to provide a landing on the West Side.
In just seven years Lundy had become a vibrant community again. During the summers it was visited at least twice weekly by excursion steamers providing a landing fee income in 1924 of £126 (split 50/50 with Mr May) which along with the other sources of revenue probably resulted in a small annual profit.
Martin Coles Harman got a bargain for the £16,000 Lundy cost him.
Read about the Harman Years >