Bilston's Robin 2 club changes ownership under major investment plans
One of the Black Country’s top live music venues has been sold to a former World’s Strongest Man competitor.
Fraser Tranter has taken over the Robin 2 in Bilston from founder owner Mike Hamblett.
Mr Tranter told the Express & Star it was an ‘honour and a privilege’ to take over ‘such an iconic venue’.
Sixty-four-year-old Mr Hamblett started The Robin R ‘n’ B Club at The Robin Hood pub in Brierley Hill – opposite the Merry Hill shopping centre – 26 years ago.
He said: “As I approach my 65th birthday, I realise that time is running out for me and The Robin needs fresh blood to continue the quest of taking the venue to the next level.
“Fraser loves what The Robin is all about and intends to invest heavily in the business to secure the jobs of all the employees for many years to come and continue The Robin legacy.”
Mr Tranter, an ex-athlete from Wolverhampton, used to weigh in at 22-stone of pure muscle and pull trucks for a living.
But now, after months of talks, he has taken over as both proprietor and managing director of the Robin 2.
He has vowed it will be business as usual at the venue.
He said: “It is an absolute honour and privilege to be the owner of such an iconic venue. It is business as usual and we hope to make a significant difference.”
Mr Hamblett added: “The club is continuing to operate as it always has done, it will be business as usual.
“I will continue to work with the management team indefinitely performing many of the tasks I have always done and look forward to the future.”
Since the club changed hands the Rhythm Restaurant on the first floor has been completely refurbished along with the entrance.
“Fraser has further big plans for The Robin 2. I wish him every success in his exciting new venture,” said Mr Hamblett.
Mr Tranter has already opened a new American diner-style restaurant on the second floor of the Bilston venue with more details to be revealed in the coming months.
The Robin 2 opened its doors in 1998 in a former drill hall at Mount Pleasant in Bilston town centre.
The original Robin shut in 2003 and The Robin 2 has continued on its own since then. It earned the nickname the Marquee of the Midlands after welcoming some of the world’s biggest rock and blues stars.
Mr Hamblett will be kept busy despite selling the Robin 2 after writing a book about his career in music and running the Robin 2. He is launching the book, Keeping Music Live, at the club at 1pm today when former Slade bass player Jim Lea will be a special guest. Mr Hamblett will be signing copies and there will be acoustic music from Spike and The Quireboys at the free admission event.
Keeping Music Live tells Mr Hamblett’s story in music from his days as a drummer in Black Country bands like Sub Zero through to starting his own venue and attracting names such as Robert Plant, Slade and Joe Bonamassa to play for Black Country fans.