DCSIMG

Musical makeover for derelict Wakefield Arms pub

Ben Manning Music Foundation is looking to buy and convert the old Wakefield Arms pub, Kirkgate, with the backing of the local council, into a music hub and community centre.
Pictured: Lee Manning with Chris Handley.
w305a353

Ben Manning Music Foundation is looking to buy and convert the old Wakefield Arms pub, Kirkgate, with the backing of the local council, into a music hub and community centre. Pictured: Lee Manning with Chris Handley. w305a353

A boarded up, neglected and run down pub could be transformed into a community music centre.

For the past decade The Wakefield Arms has been left to rot.

It has become a magnet for squatters and drug users and has been gutted by several fires.

But now the charity Ben’s Music Foundation wants to restore the Grade-II listed building, next to Kirkgate Railway Station.

It is hoped the centre will help create a gateway to the city as part of the regeneration of Kikrgate area.

The £4.6m redevelopment of the station is due to be completed next year.

And the transformation of the pub will be one of the last pieces of the puzzle.

The ambitious scheme, known as Project Wakefield, will involve buying the pub, which was built in Portland Stone in the 1840s, from the current owner.

Lee Manning, charity director, said: “From our initial surveys we think the work will cost around £500,000.

“The building itself is in a very bad state - there is even a tree growing up through the roof.

“But the council and the police are behind us all the way.

“The pub is the last part of the Kirkgate area to be redeveloped.”

Mr Manning and his family set up Ben’s Music Foundation, formally known as The Ben Manning Music Foundation, in memory of his 17-year-old brother who drowned after a night out in the city in February 2011.

Ben loved playing and listening to an eclectic mix of music.

He taught himself to play acoustic, electric and bass guitar and played with indie band Distorted Miles.

Since his death, the charity has opened a shop in the city centre and also works with schools to provide music training and equipment.

The charity has already been offered a £250,000 grant in principle from the Arts Council - but it needs to raise £10,000 in order to secure the money.

They have teamed up with Benfield Toyota, based at Silkwood Park, who have donated a car to be raffled next summer to help raise more money.

Project Wakefield aims to transform the pub, which has been used by squatters and drugs users, into a music centre with classrooms, rehearsal studios, recording facilities and a live music lounge.

Sarah Pearson, Wakefield Council’s service director for economic growth and housing, said: “We are working with the owner of the Wakefield Arms to carry out a number of surveys, we will then discuss the results with the owner and look at the next steps forward.”

For more information or to get involved, e-mail projectwakefield@benmanning.org.uk

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page