Derby's 17th Century Old Bell Hotel to reopen

The Old Bell Hotel in Derby
Image caption The Old Bell has suffered from years of neglect

One of Derby's oldest buildings is being brought back into use.

The Old Bell Hotel, on Sadler Gate, was built in 1650. It closed when its licence was suspended last year after a man was killed on the street outside.

The new owner, Paul Hurst, said he was spending £1m on refurbishments, including ridding the former nightclub of rats and pigeons and painting over graffiti.

He hopes to open a tearoom in the building by the end of May.

Mr Hurst, who used his own money and private investment to buy the Grade II listed building, also owns two other businesses on Sadler Gate.

He said: "I walked past The Old Bell every day and I could see the state it was in. I became aware nothing was happening with it.

"You can't just let it go to wrack and ruin. We have done too much of that to our buildings in Derby. This building is so important to Sadler Gate and the Cathedral Quarter."

Boutique hotel

The former coaching inn was turned into a nightclub in 1969. When Mr Hurst bought it last year, it was inhabited by squatters and suffered from damage caused by rats, pigeons and woodworm.

A buddleia tree was growing out of the front of the building, causing damage which cost £100,000 to repair.

The attack in April 2012 that led to the Old Bell's licence being suspended saw 24-year-old Ashley Finlay killed.

Mr Hurst said contractors have moved nearly 40 tonnes of rubbish out of the building since the renovations began.

He plans to reopen the building's ground floor by the end of the year, including the tea rooms, the function rooms and the restored Tudor bar.

"The Tudor bar has been closed for years and we are recreating it exactly as it was," he said. "We also hope to uncover the glass domes in the ballroom, which have been boxed in."

If he can acquire the funding, Mr Hurst eventually aims to open the rest of the premises as a boutique hotel.

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