A CHESTER pub that has been closed since January 2018 is to reopen in time for Christmas thanks to a £400,000 investment.

The refurbishment of The Lock Vaults on Hoole Lane is being carried out by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and new licensees Wirral resident Carl Burleigh and David Keith, who lives in Liverpool.

Work starts on Monday, October 23 and The Lock Vaults will be completely overhauled. It will open in early December, creating 10 new jobs.

An artists impression of the revamped pub.

An artist's impression of the revamped pub.

The project will totally revamp the exterior of the mock Tudor pub, painting it a smart charcoal grey and putting in new bi-fold café-style windows to bring the light and the outside in. There will be new signage and lighting, and business partners Carl and David are applying for a pavement licence to permit seating outside.

The makeover will strip out the rundown pub. The stylish new internal décor will have a vintage feel, incorporating exposed brickwork, wood floors and decorative tiles. Warm colours, leather-covered banquette seating and velvet-upholstered booths with feature lighting over them will complete the look.

In terms of layout, The Lock Vaults will have a comfortable lounge with a new working fire plus two bar areas, one with TVs showing Sky Sports where customers can watch major tournaments.

On the drinks front, the duo are adding a quality coffee machine and upgrading the cellar, installing state-of-the-art dispense equipment. There will be three cask ales on hand pulls and three craft beers on tap, as well as a carefully selected range of premium lagers, wines and spirits.

A kitchen refit will enable Carl and David to introduce food. The Lock Vaults will serve breakfasts (from a full English to lighter options like bagels), award-winning Pieminister pies at lunchtimes and pub classics and specials in the evenings. Traditional Sunday roasts are also on the cards.

Situated close to the Shropshire Union Canal, The Lock Vaults may have been named after nearby Hoole Lane Lock 5. To cater for walkers on the canal path, the pub will offer takeaway coffee with bowls of water and free treats for customers’ four-legged friends.

Carl and David want The Lock Vaults to contribute to the community. To that end there will be activities like quizzes and music to bring people together and support for charities and good causes, such The Martin Gallier Project, which recently opened in Chester.

The duo have worked in hospitality venues across the North West.

Carl said: “I always love coming to Hoole and have wanted a pub here for many years. It’s got a real identity with individual businesses and a great community spirit. We hope to add to that by bringing The Lock Vaults back to life as an independently run local.

"It’s in a sorry state now but the investment will transform it. The designs are amazing and The Lock Vaults will be like a totally different pub, outside and in. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about the scheme; people are desperate for the pub to reopen after so long.”

The pub had shut in January 2018 over structural concerns, and Star Pubs and Bars took over the site from Punch Taverns. Plans to modernise the building and bring it back to life were disrupted when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The Lock Vaults as it currently stands. Picture: Bernard Platt.

The Lock Vaults as it currently stands. Picture: Bernard Platt.

Star Pubs & Bars’ investment manager Mike Smith said: “The pandemic and its aftermath disrupted our plans for The Lock Vaults.

"We’re delighted to be finally breaking ground and will be working flat out to reopen the pub in time for the festive season. It will look beautiful when the works are completed; the change will be dramatic.

"The area has seen massive redevelopment with many new apartment blocks built. Our aim is to provide a top quality pub for residents to enjoy on their doorsteps.

"Carl and David have decades of experience in hospitality between them and know Hoole well. They are ideally placed to relaunch The Lock Vaults. We wish them all the best.”