North Walsham’s Feathers pub set for heritage centre role

Members of the North Walsham Heritage Centre committee outside the Feather Pub in the town has bough

Members of the North Walsham Heritage Centre committee outside the Feather Pub in the town has bought the old pub and turn it into a heritage centre for the town pictured from left Joseph Ballard, Paul Oakes, Diana Velhagen Glynn Burrows and Rob Scammell.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A central North Walsham pub is set for conversion into a heritage centre next year.

The Feathers, on Market Street, North Walsham, would house a museum for local artefacts, tell the town's story, and could also include workshop space, a tourist information centre, and a café, according to Rob Scammell, founder of the blossoming Regenerate North Walsham group and a member of the North Walsham Heritage Centre committee which is behind the bid.

The committee has agreed terms with Feathers' owner Oak Taverns, a small pub chain based in Thame, Oxfordshire, subject to funding and planning permission.

They had offered the £275,000 asking price and were now in discussions with funding bodies for £500,000 to pay for the pub and its conversion, Mr Scammell added.

Oak Taverns has agreed to take the pub off the market for three months to give the committee time to secure cash and planning permission.

Mr Scammell said they hoped to submit an outline planning application for the conversion to North Norfolk District Council next week.

Two existing flats above the pub would generate much-needed income.

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'We're very excited,' he said. 'We're hoping it will be open next year, in time for a re-enactment of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt in North Walsham.'

A posting on the North Walsham and District Archive Group's Facebook page asking if anyone would be prepared to donate regularly to buy local artefacts for a heritage centre had prompted more than 100 positive responses, showing the level of interest in the project, he added.

The committee would be contacting Paston College to ask about borrowing memorabilia connected with Lord Nelson, a one-time pupil, for display at the centre.

Martyn Miles, who has been landlord of The Feathers for the past seven years and is also in charge at the nearby King's Arms pub, said he had enjoyed some great times at The Feathers.

'However, with the announced arrival of JD Wetherspoon in the town it was felt that the time was right to put the property on the market,' he said.

'It will be a shame to see such an old-established pub close but, unfortunately, this is happening everywhere. Hopefully it will continue to be used and enjoyed by the local community if the proposed scheme goes through.'

Thought to be about 300 years old, The Feathers includes a cellar, which some believe was once a police cell, with a tunnel connecting it to the King's Arms where courts were held. The town's stocks used to stand outside The Feathers.

Mr Scammell said there was also UEA interest in the area opposite The Feathers, around the derelict 4a Market Street, which may have been used as a burial ground for those massacred in the peasants' revolt.

North Walsham amateur historian Mike Ling, who has an extensive collection of local artefacts, photos and postcards, said he had been bitterly disappointed when hopes of using the floor above the Chubby Panda restaurant, Market Street, as a museum had collapsed. Other past schemes have included looking at Paston College's Nelson Room.

But Mr Ling was 'absolutely delighted' at the prospect of a heritage centre at The Feathers. He added: 'It would be a great advantage to the town to be able to fly our flag, and preserve our artefacts.'