Adapting to changing times

The world's oldest drive thru now opening at The Mermaid

It was Darwin who said: “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.’

In 2020 the Mermaid was looking forward to celebrating 600 years of welcoming travellers, with a range of events to mark the many events and stories of those 600 years. Sadly in March we all entered a new world of lockdowns and face, space and hands – and nothing was as it was meant to be.

In those 600 years the Mermaid has survived, because it has been adaptable. It once stood on Middle Street, until the building of houses at the top of the street blocked the main thoroughfare to the Strand, and the street was renamed, Mermaid Street.

And the Mermaid has been adapted for a variety of uses – in the early twentieth century she was a private members club, during the second world war she was a garrison for Canadian troops, and in the nineteenth century the car park was a piggery.

The world’s oldest “drive thru”?

Since the lifting of lockdown in July the Mermaid has adapted – the car park has become an outside terrace, the Tudor Room has transformed into the Tudor Bar as functions are not permitted, and this week the Mermaid adapts to the twenty first century – by offering the world’s oldest “drive thru” – and the irony is that the arch is an example of adaptability as it was created in the 1920s, to provide another access to the inn.

The drive thru prompted a lot of interest online, as friends of the inn asked if we could deliver to California, Nova Scotia, Italy and New Zealand. Sadly we had to advise it is pick up only, available Friday through to Tuesday, 5pm – 8pm.

Hearing the positive news this week of a potential vaccine, we look forward to a 2021, where we can spend time with family and friends again, celebrate weddings and birthdays, and smile and laugh without the barrier of a mask.

Image Credits: The Mermaid .


  1. How completely wonderful, yes certainly adaptor genes fare well as Darwin observed. As we watch, those who are adapting and evolving find brighter times. Good fortune.. Dear Mermaid of Middle Street..

  2. Well done Martin and Judith – all sounds very enterprising and hope it all goes well for you! I did manage to have lunch a few weeks ago when we were able and thought the adaptations were great particularly opening up the barn. In fact the barn was full but we had a lovely lunch in the restaurant (the same menu) which was delicious and we felt everything had been done to make us feel safe too!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here