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Repair work to start on Royal Arms

FOUR YEARS after its sorry state was first highlighted in The Globe, work is finally set to begin on the delicate job of restoring the distinctive and highly decorative canopy and glazed tile façade of the former Royal Arms Hotel in Stoke Road, Gosport.

Scaffolding will be in place and the canopy of the Grade II listed building will be temporarily removed so that the wrought-iron and stained glass can be restored to its former glory by expert craftspeople. While the canopy is being repaired, the front of the building will also be carefully restored. The project is likely to take around four months to complete.

Councillor Peter Chegwyn, Leader of the new Liberal Democrat-controlled Gosport Borough Council, said: “The Royal Arms is a landmark building on Stoke Road in Gosport and an important part of our town’s history so to see restoration work under way is very exciting.”

“Thanks to the funding secured from Historic England, we’re working with the building’s owner to repair and preserve the building’s striking façade. The ambition is that once this work is complete the building can ultimately become a valued hub for the community once more.”

The restoration work is being funded by the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme – an initiative led by Gosport Borough Council and Hampshire Cultural Trust, with £1.86 million of government funding from Historic England. The four-year programme aims to transform disused or underused high street buildings and establish new creative, cultural, residential and commercial opportunities in Gosport.

Emily Gee, Regional Director, Historic England in London and the South East, said: “The former Royal Arms Hotel is a special piece of Gosport’s social history and architectural heritage, with such a distinctive cast iron portico. It is so important to preserve characterful and significant buildings to ensure they can be enjoyed by generations to come, and we look forward to seeing the façade of the Royal Arms repaired and restored.”

Fondly known as the ‘submariners pub’ the Royal Arms was historically a favourite pit stop for sailors based at HMS Dolphin while on shore leave. But last orders were called for the final time at the pub in the early 21st century. The rear of the building is now supported accommodation for young people with disabilities. It is hoped the original bar room at the front will be transformed into a café or community space for people in Gosport.

Ari Davis, owner of the former Royal Arms, said: “I’m extremely excited that this historic building, which means such a lot to the people of Gosport, will be restored to its former glory.”

New shopfront grant awards to benefit Stoke Road and High Street buildings

Several other Stoke Road and High Street buildings are also set to benefit from funding from the HSHAZ Shopfront Grants programme, which aims to enhance and restore the condition and historic character of Gosport’s shop fronts.

Grade II-listed number 88 is one of the oldest buildings in a terrace of more modern shops and significantly contributes to the character of the High Street. The grant will support improvement works to the façade which is notable for its oriel window.

Number 3 Portland Buildings is among the most prominent buildings within the Stoke Road Conservation Area. The grant will help meet the cost of repairs to the façade of the 1930s building and the replacement of poor-quality modern shopfronts.

A project development grant has also been awarded to 67-69 Stoke Road to develop proposals for improvements to the façade of the two shop units, one of which has been boarded up for many years.

PICTURED BY GOSPORT BOROUGH COUNCIL: The decorative Royal Arms façade in Stoke Road, Gosport, is to be restored at long last (Image reproduced with permission).