THE owner of a popular wine bar that closed nearly two decades ago wiped away a tear as he saw the premises being demolished last week.

Memories of many happy years came flooding back as Murray Porter watched workers knock down the building in East Reach, Taunton.

He had run Porters wine bar there from 1986 until his retirement in 2002.

"I had mixed feelings - we had such good times there and now it's all been consigned to history," said Mr Murray, 81, who still lives in the town.

"It's a shame it ever closed and very sad that nobody took on the business.

"Old customers regularly come up to me and say, 'Couldn't you open up again because we miss it so much?' But I couldn't do that at my age."

Mr Porter, who ran the business with his late wife Jo and son Ross, took less than a year to win his first accolade, being judged in the top 50 wine bars in the country.

"I'd been a farmer in the Yeovil area for 23 years, but we were hit by the milk quotas, so I changed direction and opened the wine bar," said Mr Porter.

"It was very pleasing to win that recognition so early on - the judges said Porters had an 'unpretentious, friendly atmosphere' with an interesting selection of 100 wines."

Mr Porter was one of three partners who bought a hot air balloon and spoof articles appeared in the County Gazette claiming it had been flown over to France to stock up on wine for the Beaujolais Run.

On another occasion, boules were played between courses at Porters as a way of raising more than £1,000 for St Margaret's Hospice.

After Porters closed in 2002, the building was home to a couple of hospitality businesses before closing in October 2014, since when it has been vacant.

Following the building's demolition, a block of 12 one-bedroom flats is being built.

"It's been derelict for a number of years and had become an eyesore," said Mr Porter.

"Of course I'm sad, but it could bring a bit of new life to the bottom end of East Reach."

These days, Mr Porter's great love is singing and he has been a member of The Rivertones Harmony Chorus for the past 11 years.

He said: "I suppose you could say my life's been about farming, wine and singing.

"Unfortunately I can't do much singing at the moment with the Coronavirus - we'd just started a free course teaching men how to sing, but we've had to put that on hold for the moment."