In May 1960, Sir Fred Pontin bought the hotel:
[The Isle of Wight County Press, 14 May 1960]
[The Times, 20 June 1960]
Very shortly after Pontin took over the hotel, extra dining capacity was added in the form of a large modern single story extension on the south side of the ‘ball room’ at ground floor level .
“ The S frontage is confused, owing partly to accretions since circa 1960. Its ground floor is obscured by a single storey range. The upper floor is in somewhat gaunt buff brick, with simple battlements to match the earlier parts .”
Pevsner, Nikolaus and Lloyd, David, The Buildings of England, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Penguin, 1967.
In 1980, Coral (including Pontins) was bought by the brewer Bass. In 1987, Graham Parr and Trevor Hemmings, a multi-millionaire racehorse owner, purchased Pontins for £57.5 million, becoming major shareholders. In 1989, they sold it off for £115 million to the UK beer and leisure group Scottish & Newcastle.
Alpine soft drinks, which Pontin had bought, purchased Farringford Hotel in the 1980s and the company became known as Farringford plc. In the early 1990s, Trevor Hemmings subsequently bought Farringford at 4p a share, when it was a loss-making shell company. The company owned Farringford hotel and a number of pubs.
In 1997, Parr and Hemmings set up Arena Leisure, changing its name from Farringford plc, to manage Lingfield Park, a racecourse. Subsequently, Arena acquired further racecourses: Folkestone, Wolverhampton, Southwell, Worcester and Royal Windsor.
On 15th November 1999, in order to help reduce the Company's debts, Arena Leisure sold off Farringford Hotel for a cash consideration of £950,000, to a consortium, made up of Lisa Hollyhead, Dean Hopkinson and Rachael Fidler.
“ Three young Island people have bought the historic Farringford Hotel for the price in the region of £1 million. Former Wight Training and Enterprise employees Dean Hopkinson, 30 and Rachael Fidler, 32, joined forces with accountant Lisa Hollyhead, 29, to purchase the 20-bedroom hotel which for many years was owned by Sir Fred Pontin.
The purchase price and cash for planned refurbishments was raised partly from private and public backers from the mainland, who wish to remain anonymous. The hotel, which sits amid parkland and a nine-acre golf course, was the home of Alfred Lord Tennyson from 1853 until his death in 1892. The house was sold by the Tennyson family in the 1940s and converted to a hotel.
The new owners completed the purchase of the hotel from Arena Leisure plc on Monday, after about two years of negotiations. As well as its literary links, the hotel has strong connections from the days when it was owned by Sir Fred, the holiday camp magnate . Former Grand National winner Specify is buried in the grounds.
Mr Hopkinson, former head of finance at WTE, and his partner, Miss Hollyhead, who live in Hill Lane, Freshwater in a converted church said they had been looking to invest in a business since arriving on the Island a year ago. Miss Fidler, a partner in the adjoining Farringford Farm, set up the new deal partnership on the Island, and had been involved in local hotel management prior to that. Miss Hollyhead was the accountant who negotiated the management buy out of the Kenwood factory in July.
The trio now plan to realise the full potential of the hotel, particularly concentrating on business tourism. “We aim to go up-market and move into the conference market and look further into the wedding market” said Miss Hollyhead. They were planning to make some structural changes to the restaurant .”
[IW County Press, 19. Nov. 1999, ‘Island trio buy Farringford Hotel for £1 m.’]
Rebecca FitzGerald and Martin Beisly bought the hotel in 2007. Rebecca FitzGerald is in the process of restoring the building to its late nineteenth century state, with 21st century comforts, and reinvigorating it as a crucible for the arts.