History of The White Lion Hotel
In partnership with Laurus Homes, Stockport Council, The Casey Group and Trafford Housing Trust, work has begun on the restoration and renovation of the historic landmark pub The White Lion Hotel in Stockport. The pub which is also an iconic and beloved sight in the town, also happens to be a Grade II listed building.
AG, in the role of Project Manager, are very committed to the delivery of this project and recognise the historic significance of the building to Stockport. Our aim is to bring forward a new chapter in The White Lion’s development, therefore we plan to write a series of blogs charting the progress and examining the history of the building itself.
Originally built in the 15th Century the pub today still looks quintessentially Tudor in its design. Although the original building has been altered and rebuilt over the years, it’s iconic style has always been respected and maintained, even if the original black timber was replaced long ago. In fact, the current White Lion Hotel is the second building of its name to be erected on the site. Upon renovation in 1823 the mock Tudor frontage was recreated from scratch and applied to the building to maintain its look.
From the late 16th Century, the town of Stockport, like many other medieval towns, underwent fundamental changes to the standard of living. Over time this has affected all timber-framed properties within the town. For example; originally the central hall of an average timber-framed home was thatched and designed to allow an open fire to exist within. This meant smoke from the fire could escape the structure by travelling up and out under the roof without suffocating the occupants. A revolution in design saw chimneys becoming more popular, eventually replacing what had come before. Buildings also started being upgraded to incorporate a new upper storey to enable the installation of new windows and more rooms. It can be assumed that it was during this time the original White Lion Hotel gained its first-floor level.
During the 1900’s, the building philosophy was to re-use medieval buildings by combining them with the then fashionable Edwardian Baroque style. James Barritt Broadbent (1864-1917) a famous British architect, was appointed to design the new White Lion Hotel in 1904. This is where the building made its transition from a little two-storey pub to the grand design it is today.
Whilst the new hotel was being constructed the original hotel was retained at the front, enabling business to carry on whilst the old building was gradually demolished. The new White Lion Hotel was built further back as part of Stockport Council’s improvement scheme to allow easier access for traffic around the surrounding streets. In 1905, The new White Lion opened to the public replacing “The Old” with “The New”.
In the early 1960’s the redevelopment of the Merseyway Shopping Centre resulted in the mass demolition of all historic buildings to the rear of the White Lion Hotel. The Merseyway Shopping Centre was opened in 1965 and was built upon concrete stilts above the Mersey River which runs under the entire length of the Shopping Centre, this became one of the first purpose-built shopping precincts in the UK.
The footprint of the White Lion Hotel has remained unaltered since its opening in 1905 and forms part of the Market/Underbank Conservation Area, which lies within the Town Centre of Stockport. It was designated in 1974 and extended in 2005.
Today, building has been vacant since circa 2008 resulting in the deterioration of the buildings fabric and structure, requiring a rigorous approach to understand the building in order to demonstrate the viability for refurbishment and use as residential accommodation. The design team, led by AG, also consists of architects Bowker Sadler Architecture and structural engineers Renaissance Associates Ltd.
The project now aims to create 11 new homes offering a mixture of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. There are also plans for the White Lion’s ground floor to re-open as a restaurant, meaning even 600 years later Stockport’s residents will be able to pop in for a drink and a bite to eat.
Check back in with AG’s blog page over the coming weeks for more updates on this project.