Building works begin at historic Northampton pub

Today building work began to rescue the Old Black Lion public house in Marefair, Northampton. The milestone was marked by a small gathering of those involved in the project including the contractors – Midland Conservation Limited – the Churches Conservation Trust, the Friends of St Peter’s Church and representatives of West Northamptonshire Council, who are key funders of the project.  

The works are part of the Churches Conservation Trust’s ambitious project to regenerate the Old Black Lion, which is a Grade II listed building, next door to St Peter’s Church. The church dates to the 12th century and is listed at Grade I, but closed for worship in 1995 and was vested in CCT in 1998. Despite periods of use by the community and an active Friends group of volunteers, in recent years St Peter’s has struggled to function as a heritage landmark and venue due to a lack of hospitality facilities or WCs.

Hannah Parham, Regeneration Project Manager, the Churches Conservation Trust says: “The aim of the project is to restore the Old Black Lion as a pub, open for business and once again serving the local community. The idea is that the refurbished pub will provide hospitality for visitors and volunteers at St Peter’s Church, supporting the work of the Friends of St Peter’s Church and encouraging beneficial uses of the church for concerts, performances and events.  The revitalised pub could also generate funds for the repair and conservation of St Peter’s Church and to support the work of CCT more broadly, providing the church with a more sustainable future. In addition, CCT’s national office will be located on the first floor of the Old Black Lion. It’s been a huge effort from the CCT team, the design team, contractors, and our partners and friends in Northampton to reach this major milestone of starting conservation works on site; we are excited to see the building transformed over the coming months.

The architects for the scheme are Manchester-based OMI with Crosby Granger as conservation architects. The professional team also includes quantity surveyors, structural and services engineers, archaeologist, ecologist, building control inspector, and health and safety advisers. Enabling and demolition works took place last summer and now the main conservation repair works can begin; a third contract for fitting out the pub and offices will follow in November 2023. 

The project will cost £3.5m, of which £3m is capital expenditure. CCT was awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Enterprise Grant of £1,841,800 in 2016; in November 2022, this was augmented by £794,405, to reflect rising costs.  Funding has also been granted by HM Treasury’s Towns Fund, West Northamptonshire Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and West Northamptonshire Development Corporation. The project has received £315,000 of Towns Fund support, and the delivery is supported by the Northampton Forward Board and forms part of the Marefair ‘Heritage Gateway’. 

The refurbishment should be completed by Spring 2024, with the publican opening the pub shortly afterwards. 

Find out more on the project's Facebook page