CHESHIRE College – South & West learners have been given a rare insight into what goes on at a pub transformation project.

Cookery and construction aren’t two trades you typically see together, but for Cheshire College – South & West and Harthill Cookery School, they make the perfect pairing.

Construction learners at the college have been putting into practice new skills they’ve learnt in the classroom to support the renovation works required for highly acclaimed chef, Brian Mellor’s latest venture.

Transforming a derelict building into a fully functional pub restaurant with overnight accommodation is no mean feat, and learners at Cheshire College have been given a true insight to life on a construction site with the launch of live classroom learning.

Former Cheshire College – South & West hospitality and catering learner and founder of Harthill Cookery School Brian Mellor approached the college’s Construction & The Built Environment Department to give learners a work experience opportunity like no other, as he works with his partners to reopen The Bear & Ragged Staff in Tattenhall, Chester.

Live classroom learning launched in September 2020 to support construction learners in their surveying and sustainability modules and since this time they have gone on to design pizza ovens, vegetable planters, green walls, external shelters, car parks and other groundworks.

Silke Novak, construction tutor at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “We are delighted to be working with Brian and his team on this new renovation project. This is a fantastic opportunity for our learners who have been able to go visit the site, soak up the information in real-time and get a true feel for working life in the construction industry.

“Due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place before the holidays, learners were only able to carry out surveying outside and are now planning specific aspects of the build which we hope we’ll be able to deliver over the next couple of months.”

Whilst still enhancing their knowledge of industry techniques, learners can design and cost plans but are only able to construct low-risk aspects of the build such as the outdoor shelters which are proving to be vital within the hospitality industry at the moment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Level 3 Construction learner Aaran Edwards, who is working on the project, said: “Being able to see the building as it’s renovated is really good as it helps me recognise all the little things that go on in a new structure that many people wouldn’t notice.

"Having an involvement in designing items for the new building is also helping me expand my knowledge and get a further understanding on the many things that take place on the site.”

All learners involved in the project will be presenting their final designs and cost proposals to the directors at The Bear and Ragged Staff in February and, once approved, will work in partnership with local construction companies to bring concepts to life.

The pub will also be the new home of the cookery school and the project is due to open this summer.

Brian Mellor said: “Having attended Cheshire College in the 1980s, I’ve always tried to support current learners where possible in any new projects or provide work experience opportunities and I was really excited to get them involved in the renovation works for The Bear & Ragged Staff.

“All the learners who visited the site during the first term were so enthusiastic about the project which was fantastic to see. We are looking forward to reading their proposals next month and seeing their visions come to life over the course of the spring and summer terms.”

From September 2021 Cheshire College – South & West will be the only college in Cheshire to offer T Levels in Construction. Designed with employers to help young people develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to thrive in the workplace. T Levels are a new two-year qualification for 16-19-year-olds equivalent to three A Levels and comprise of 20 per cent on-the-job experience.