Wednesday, November 23, 2016

News: New Rotherham bar marks positive future and recognises past


Passionate Rotherham businessman, Mark McGrail, talks about how his new bar and bistro venture in the town centre comes at a time when Rotherham is on the cusp of something great.

Rothbiz revealed in September that work was underway on a new bar on Domine Lane where the former public house was sold after an auction with Allsops earlier this year.

The vacant 8,000 sq ft property was previously The Exchange and formerly Yates Wine Lodge. It was given a guide price of £80,000+.

The new owner is Mark McGrail, a successful local businessman who owns SME Environmental Services, the Parkgate firm that provides services from environmental recovery to sensitive reclamation. Mark says that if he hadn't bought the building, another company had plans to demolish it. He is now in the process of restoring the building to its former glory and also hopes to buy other historical properties in the borough.

However, it is not all about preservation – Mark believes Rotherham is on the cusp of something great. The new bar looks out on Forge Island where a new leisure hub is being planned. Rotherham Council is currently in talks to purchase the site with several investors already showing an interest in development opportunities, with demolition of the former Tesco building expected to take place in December.

Born in Rotherham, and leaving school at 13, Mark's first job was helping to dismantle the old Sheffield infirmary. Now having built up a successful business he says he wants to give something back to Rotherham with his dream to restore buildings which have a focal point to Rotherham's great past.


The name 1915 is a nod to Rotherham's General Post Office which occupied the site and the building next door at that time. The new bar was once an extension to the main Post Office. Mark is passionate about the building and its refurbishment, even down to exposing the English stitch bricks to restore the wall to its natural state. Skylights, which house half of the building and were previously covered in sticky black plastic, have been meticulously removed to reveal a light and airy space inside. The original stained glass windows which adorn the internal walls and eaves have also been uncovered and lovingly restored.

Mark McGrail, owner of the 1915 bar (pictured, seated), said: "Rotherham was once such a powerful town, but it's forgotten where it's from. Speak to people who live outside of Rotherham and they appreciate the history of the place, the buildings and its landmark. This building is central to a lot of what went on at the time it was built. It is critical that it is saved and used for decades to come.

"At the end of the day, I'm a businessman and I wouldn't be investing if I didn't believe it could make money. And Rotherham has a lot of potential with the future development of Forge Island and the Council’s plans to rejuvenate Rotherham."

Mark wants to be a key part of those plans, and part of that means offering opportunities to young people in the borough. As such, he is renovating the underground rooms of the old offices – on average, the basement is 24 feet below street level, which required a large amount of building work when it was originally built, and none less so today.

Four rooms, each fronted by glass, with access via an underground corridor to the front of the building, will be offered to young entrepreneurs aged 18-24 years old as retail incubation space.

Damien Wilson, strategic director for regeneration and environmental services at Rotherham Council (pictured, right), said: "Mark first approached our RiDO team when he was looking for an opportunity to invest and we are pleased we've been able to give him the practical support he wanted. A lot is happening in Rotherham – it is a unique town with much to offer and we are confident that businesses who choose to invest here will succeed and flourish in the coming years."

Set to open in December, the new bar and bistro will feature an indoor mezzanine. Whilst there will be a bistro-style menu featuring chunky burgers and a selection of steaks, an outdoor kitchen will enable street food to be cooked on the forecourt. The bar will also offer a selection of draft and bottled beers and lagers, wines and cocktails and will feature a gin-bar and real-ale bar.

1915 bar website

Images: RMBC / 1915 bar


Anonymous,  November 23, 2016 at 1:54 PM  

Any plans to sell real ales?

Donna Goodwin,  November 23, 2016 at 4:13 PM  

It looks great can't wait to visit and have a good look around so good to see someone investing in Rothetham and saving our heritage

Anonymous,  November 23, 2016 at 10:05 PM  

Great news at last -I hope it's a success !
Any news Rothbiz about the cross keys ?

Rachael,  November 24, 2016 at 6:15 AM  

See the last two words of the article - yes! :-)

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