Delays to work on historic Willenhall pub
Work on the first phase of a £300,000 project to transform one of the oldest pubs in the Black Country into a café and community centre has hit delays.
The Grade II listed Bell Inn, in Market Place, Willenhall, is being made wind and water-tight and a flat is being created to deal with security issues under the first phase of the scheme, which was expected to finish this month.
But developers behind the plans have revealed that the work has been delayed by at least two months due to manufacturing and structural issues.
A consortium of Willenhall residents formed The Bell group and bought the pub at auction in 2010.
Rupy Pandaal, a member of the consortium, said delays had occurred after items being used in the work had to be remanufactured
He added: "We have encountered a few structural problems which has delayed things.
"As they went to work on the oldest part of the building they noticed the brickwork was pulling away and had to think about how to deal with that. "
He said the situation had to be handled carefully due to it being a listed building and certain directions which were given by conservation officers.
Mr Pandaal said: "The whole thing is running two or three months behind schedule which is a bit of a challenge.
"The original date for completion was the end of June.
"This first phase has been so tiring. All of our energies have gone into it.
"We just want to get to the end of the first phase and get someone living in the flat to avoid any further vandalism."
Vandals had broken into the building on a number of occasions and ripped tiles off the roof, stripped metal, scrawled graffiti and smashed whatever they could find in the yard.
It is intended that a first-floor flat which can be rented out to help fund the community facility as well as deter vandals.
The first phase of the scheme involves replacing windows and doors and working on the roof. More funds will have to be raised to take the scheme ahead to the next phase, which will involve the interior of the building.
The building was repossessed after its former owner defaulted on mortgage payments.
Four community-minded individuals clubbed together and bought the building to safeguard it.
The iconic building, which has been a pub since 1660, includes oak beams in a former hay loft which date back to the 1580s. The building survived a huge blaze known as the Great Fire of Willenhall in 1659, when 60 other buildings in the town were destroyed.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.