On the Wright Track

4th June 2018

Self Architects have helped bring a ‘hidden gem’ of Rotherham back to life with the opening of the George Wright boutique hotel, bar and restaurant. The iconic Grade II listed building tucked away behind the High Street on Snail Hill, dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, but has laid empty since the mid-1990s after being severely fire-damaged. But this week it opened its doors again as a seven-bedroomed boutique hotel in a £500,000 scheme which has created 25 jobs.

The George Wright features a function room that can accommodate 150 people with open terraces and a botanical-type garden to the rear. The unique building also boasts gin and whisky bars and a gallery restaurant with an open kitchen offering fine-dining for up to 80 people.

The showcase redevelopment has been designed by Self. Project architect Kevin Unwin said:

“This is a brilliant regeneration project which is bringing new life to a wonderful building, creating jobs and providing something unique for the people of Rotherham.

“We have, wherever possible, reinstated a lot of the original brickwork, natural stone and timber which has been left exposed to keep the feel of the building throughout. The internal fit out has also included the refurbishment of things like original fireplaces and front doors.”

Each bedroom, including two wedding suites, is named after a famous son or daughter of Rotherham. These include civil engineer Sir Donald Coleman Bailey, inventor of the Bailey Bridge which helped secure victory in World War Two, and the ardent slavery abolitionist Elizabeth Walker.

The ‘hidden gem’ of a Grade II listed building was built in 1810 as offices for George Wright & Co, famous for designing and manufacturing elaborate stoves and fireplaces. It was also legal offices and was last used as a pub and restaurant in the mid 1990s before being badly damaged in a major fire.

Heritage Lottery Funding backed by Rotherham Council enabled the fire damaged shell of the building to be repaired in 2013, when it was bought by Chris Hamby as part of his High Street regeneration project in Rotherham. Another local businessman Mark McGrail then bought it and, working with Self, has now fulfilled his vision to create the George Wright boutique hotel, bar and restaurant. Mark, director at Parkgate firm SME Environmental Services, said:

“This is a remarkable building which many people still don’t know exists, a hidden gem that Rotherham should be proud of.

“This is all about celebrating Rotherham’s history and its people but also helping to create a strong future too. There have been over 250,000 expressions of interest and requests for more information online and so we are very confident that people really want this kind of high-quality establishment in Rotherham.”

Self worked with Mark last year on transforming the old mail sorting office on Domine Lane into the 1915 Bar and Bistro.

Self have delivered some key projects over the last ten years in Rotherham and are helping to spearhead the current regeneration of the town centre – including the £10m revamp of Westgate Chambers.