Construction work begins to bring iconic Grade II listed Northampton pub back into use

“Getting people out into pubs, into churches, coming together, is what we are trying to achieve through this project”

Thursday, 14th July 2022, 5:11 pm

Construction work has started to bring an iconic pub in Northampton back into use.

Builders have started work on the Grade II listed Old Black Lion, next door to St Peter's Church, to reopen it as a 'community-based pub'.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) approved plans in November to allow the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to reopen the establishment as part of a wider redevelopment scheme.

Construction work has started to bring the pub back into use

CCT will relocate from its London headquarters to Northampton as part of a Government move to have more agencies working outside of the capital. The pub will be in use on the ground floor and CCT will have their offices on the floor above.

Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton, CCT regeneration project manager Hannah Parham said: "We've begun our works on site.

"Buildings like churches and like pubs which, surprisingly, despite you might think they are contrasting purposes, actually suffer similar problems in the modern era in that high streets are declining... so getting people out into pubs, into churches, coming together, is what we are trying to achieve through this project."

When asked if the aim is for the building to provide a new lease of life to the church and the church provides a reason to come to the pub, Hannah agreed, saying: "We're looking for that virtuous circle, really."

The approved plans will see the regeneration of the building, with restored bar spaces for eating and drinking, and a new dining room overlooking the courtyard beer garden.

The historic carriage passage from Marefair into the Old Black Lion’s courtyard will be reinstated and the pub – which dates to at least the 16th century – repaired to the “highest conservation standards”.

A new path and gate will connect the pub’s courtyard entrance on St Peter’s Street to St Peter’s churchyard next door.

Chair of The Friends of St Peter’s Mrs Jean Hawkins previously said: "We just can’t wait to have the Old Black Lion up and running again. It will simply revolutionise the sort of things we can do at the church.

"All events will be so much easier to fix up with toilets and refreshments next door once again. It will bring new possibilities to St Peter’s. Having a pathway into the churchyard linking church and pub will bring daily life back to this potentially pleasant part of Marefair.

"Friends volunteers will have creature comforts - no more running to the railway station for a toilet. The whole visitor scene is going to be so attractive.

"The design features of the project will make the pub a delight. It's going to get back its own character and fascinating history. It will be a proper part of the Heritage Gateway to the Town.

"We really have missed the Old Black Lion so much."

The pub is owned by WNC, which will lease it to the CCT. The trust is managing the project and has been awarded £1.8m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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'Delight' as plans approved to reopen iconic Grade II-listed pub in Northampton

The Old Black Lion closed in 2018.