THE major refurbishment of a landmark Dudley building was due to start this week. Number 23 Priory Street is about to undergo a major £900,000 facelift to bring the empty and rundown building back into use as a bar and restaurant.
Work on the double fronted building, which was the town's first fire station, includes the reinstatement of a number of key architectural and heritage features.
The 1970s shop front will be removed and the original fire station doors and frontage will be brought back to give direct access on to Priory Street.
The site was once occupied by Dudley Flint Glass works and constructed around 1770. The remains of the previous glass works lie beneath Stone Street Square and, as part of this major refurbishment, the foundations will be exposed with lighting and viewable through a glass floor.
Councillor Judy Foster, cabinet member for regeneration, said: "I cannot stress enough the historical and archaeological importance of this building and its surrounding area and I am delighted that work on restoring this town centre gem is starting.
"Double good news comes with this project, because not only is the building being refurbished but we've also secured a tenant who will be opening a new bar and restaurant soon after the work is complete in the spring of next year."
The fire station was constructed in 1892 and remained operational until 1939, when a new police head quarters and fire station was built in Tower Street.
From the 1940s onwards the former fire station was used as a variety of purposes including a club for the RAF, Payne's shoe shop and Carver's Cafe.
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