Thursday, November 9, 2017

News: Boutique hotel conversion for historic Rotherham building

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A Grade II listed "hidden gem" of a building in Rotherham town centre is set to be brought back to life as a boutique hotel under new plans revealed this week.

The George Wright building is an early 19th century former office built in a Tudor Revival style. It is tucked away behind the High Street on The Crofts and was saved from being lost forever by Chris Hamby who has pioneered the heritage-led regeneration project to create a complex of mixed-used retail outlets focusing on listed buildings.

With the initial focus on the restoration of the Three Cranes building and the retail units which are fully let, plans have now been submitted and work is already underway to continue the conversion of the George Wright building.

This project is being pioneered by another local businessman who sees the potential of the town and the importance of recognising its heritage - Mark McGrail, who found success with Parkgate-based SME Environmental Services and last year completed the 1915 Bar & Bistro in the town centre.

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The latest plans for the George Wright building, drawn up by White Design Ltd, are for an internal fitout, external landscaping works and refurbishment, including some new windows and doors and change of use class to become a restaurant, bar and boutique hotel.

The building was famously occupied by George Wright & Company in the 1800's who designed and manufactured elaborate stoves and fireplaces. The site also formed lawyer's offices from 1777-1887.

Mark McGrail, explains: "It's being lovingly restored, keeping its listed features, converted to a boutique hotel. Each room is being restored and dedicated to a person of Rotherham's past and future. The facility will have a gin tasting bar, open terrace front and back, with a botanical type garden to the rear. And there is a gallery restaurant with open kitchen."

With seven rooms, the intention is to create a high quality establishment – "a hidden gem", set away from the main thoroughfare of the High Street.

Mark added: "It has two wedding apartments which open up opposite the Minster with the view, specifically for the church, and there is access to and from the High Street. We are looking to post two cannon at the front entrance with space for a horse drawn carriage to be able to enter in and out."

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The original stone built two-storey, Grade II listed building was constructed in 1850. It includes a two and three storey annex to the north that had been subjected to fire, leaving the roof and upper floors missing. The regeneration scheme enabled the shell of the building to be repaired and restored in 2013 but the interior has remained vacant.

The overall plan that enabled the buildings to be removed from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register was backed by a £750,000 long term capital finance loan from Rotherham Council that secured £677,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) for additional, much needed works. A further £630,000 was made available by the Council to continue the restoration.

McGrail's first major revamp created the 1915 Bar and saved the vacant 8,000 sq ft property that was previously The Exchange and formerly Yates Wine Lodge from demolition. It also created space for Sorting Office, a new creative collective of artist studios.

Images: White Design Ltd / Hamby's

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