Leading commercial law firm Thrings has advised the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust on the acquisition of an historic pub in Wiltshire which it plans to restore and re-open as a visitor centre and tourist destination.
The Trust received strategic and legal advice from Charles Wakefield and Natalie Wright of Thrings on the purchase of the Peterborough Arms in Dauntsey Lock from Wadworth Brewery.
The pub – a Grade II listed building and one of only two pubs next to the 50-mile Wilts & Berks Canal – is situated midway between Swindon and Chippenham, and 30 miles from Bath. It had been earmarked for conversion into private dwellings since closing in April last year after the brewery decided it was no longer a viable business.
But the Trust – whose aim is to protect, conserve and improve the Wilts & Berks and North Wilts canals – has been in negotiations to buy the pub since it ceased trading. Working closely with Thrings, the Trust developed a comprehensive project plan which outlined its purchase strategy and included a detailed restoration schedule.
In addition to continuing to operate as a pub, the Trust has indicated the refurbished Peterborough Arms will incorporate a museum, a canal centre and a café, as well as offering boat trips and rented bicycles to visitors.
Last year the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust also successfully applied for the Peterborough Arms to be listed as an Asset of Community Value – buildings and land of community value which, under the terms of the Localism Act 2011, must be maintained by the relevant local authority.
Charles Wakefield said: “Thrings has been advising the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust on legal matters for more than 10 years, and we are very pleased to have successfully concluded a deal which will enable the new-look Peterborough Arms to be enjoyed by the next generation of people in Wiltshire and beyond.
“The Trust is now entering an exciting phase of the project, and over the coming months will begin refurbishing the pub, securing the required trading permits and re-launching a business which is regarded with such affection by so many people in the local community.”
Chris Coyle, Acting Chairman of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, added: “The Trust is very excited to have been able to buy the Peterborough Arms. We know that our plans are ambitious, but we believe we can make this into a tourist destination as well as a centre for the surrounding community.
“We are very keen to return the pub to the local community and are therefore hoping to open it in some form as soon as possible. Given its condition, the restoration will be a big task, but with the ongoing support of our members and the community, we are confident about moving this complex project forward.
“Over the past decade, Thrings has consistently acted in the Trust’s best interests, not only by providing first-class legal advice and demonstrating sound commercial acumen, but also by retaining a down-to-earth approach which makes them extremely easy to work with. We look forward to collaborating with Thrings on more exciting projects in the future.”
Completing the purchase of the Peterborough Arms for the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust caps a successful month for Thrings’ Commercial Property team, which is based across the firm’s four main offices in Swindon, Bath, Bristol and London.
In July, partner Eric Livingston and fellow construction law specialist Natalia Sokolov were elected to Vice Chair roles at two of the region’s most prominent industry organisations, the Great Western branch of the Forum for the Built Environment and the Association of Women in Property in the South West.