Wetherspoon's taking over former county court building

A historic former court house in the Black Country is set to be given a £1.3 million restoration and transformed into a specialist real ale pub - creating 40 jobs in the process.

Martha's vineyard, Walsall.

A historic former court house in the Black Country is set to be given a £1.3 million restoration and transformed into a specialist real ale pub - creating 40 jobs in the process.

The  Grade II listed former county court in Walsall town centre has been bought by JD Wetherspoon plc.

The Lichfield Street building, which was trading as Martha's Vineyard until earlier this month, was built in 1831.

The national pub chain, which is taking over more and more historic buildings and converting them into pubs, is now planning a painstaking restoration of the site.

Bosses are working with conservation officers on the revamp, which will include a new bar, removal of a raised seating area to reveal the original floor and the removal of the rear bar to create a new dining area.

Spokesman Eddie Gershon said it would be a total restoration resulting in 40 new jobs but there was no official opening date yet. The new pub will specialise in real ale, fine wines and traditional meals.

A statement reads: "JD Wetherspoon plc have undertaken many refurbishments to listed and historically important buildings in recent times and understand that sympathetic works must be carried out to enhance and revitalise such properties in a way that enables the demands of a modern business to run.

"The proposal will help promote vitality back to the town and improve the local economy by providing a number of jobs to the local population as well as retaining shoppers in the town centre by offering a pleasant and high-quality place to eat and drink, thus having a positive effect on local business and the community."

Wetherspoon's also own the landmark Inperial pub, a converted former cinema and bingo hall, in nearby Darwall Street. It is not known if this will be affected by the latest development.

Plans have now been submitted to Walsall Council, with a decision due before May 4.

Bosses of Matha's Vineyard closed the pub down earlier this month blaming the poor economic climate.