National Wetherspoon museum coming to Wolverhampton in £7m project
A new Wetherspoon hotel will also be created alongside a revamp for The Moon Under Water pub
Wolverhampton will become home to the national museum for the Wetherspoon pub chain as part of its £7 million plan to transform a city centre pub and build a hotel.
City chiefs have described the move as an 'honour' having previously reveals plans for a hotel on the site.
The news comes as Weatherspoon was revealed as the being behind the plans for the transformation of The Moon Under Water pub in Lichfield Street, creating 50 jobs.
A planning application has now been submitted.
The scheme also includes proposals to build a 70-bedroom hotel above the pub in space that has lain empty for more than 30 years.
The national museum will tell the history of the hugely successful company founded in 1979 by businessman Tim Martin.
It now operates around 900 pubs, including the chain of Lloyds No 1 bars and a growing number of Wetherspoon hotels.
Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy, said: “This planning application from Wetherspoon is very welcome and, subject to approval, will breathe new life into this building.
"There is currently £1 billion investment in the city centre and this exciting scheme is another example of the growing in confidence in our city.
"It will deliver a significant number of jobs and for a national chain like Wetherspoon to choose Wolverhampton for its national museum is an honour.”
The sprawling 40,000sq ft former Co-op department store with its white Art Deco frontage – a jewel in the city's crown for decades – has been empty for more than 30 years with only the ground floor still open for business.
From the day it opened in 1931, customers travelled from across the Midlands to shop there but in recent years it has become one of Wolverhampton's forgotten buildings.
There were plans for Central Youth Theatre to take over the space back in 2015 to create a new arts centre, but a delay in drawing up plans meant the group had to hand back a £384,000 grant it had received from the Arts Council.
The following year the YMCA put in plans worth £6m, to turn the space into an area for the YMCA Black Country Group, providing youth accommodation. But this also appears to have fallen through.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have great plans for the popular The Moon under Water pub. We believe this will be great for the pub, its customers and just as importantly the city itself.
"We feel the museum will prove popular with people who want to know more of the history of the company and see artefacts from the past. The fact that Wetherspoon wishes to house it in Wolverhampton is positive for the city.
"We are also confident that it would act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in Wolverhampton."
The vast five-storey building takes up half of one side of Lichfield Street but the upstairs storeys have been gathering dust, with crumbling walls, collapsed ceilings and rotten window frames.
Its neighbour, the old tavern O’Connells, closed around five years ago and the majority of the premises, apart from the pub, remains derelict.
The news follows the Grand Theatre’s announcement of plans to expand into the former post office next door by building a pop-up theatre and the council’s proposal to pedestrianise part of Lichfield Street.