Fire-hit Sunderland pub finally reopens eight months after devastating blaze
A fire-ravaged pub which was due to reopen only days before coronavirus restrictions were enforced has finally welcomed back customers.
The Wolsey, in Millum Terrace, Roker, Sunderland, initially closed after an electrical fault triggered a first-floor blaze on October 30 last year.
With the bar below also suffering smoke and water damage, it took nearly five months to refurbish the premises.
It was then due to reopen on March 29 before the Government ordered pubs to close on March 20.
Now, after introducing a host of safety measures to protect staff and customers, The Wolsey has finally resumed business.
Licensee Bob Klein said: “We could not believe it when we went in to lockdown when we were nearly ready to open again.
"We thought ‘oh no, not again’, although we were more concerned about the health of our staff and customers.
"But we were never going to close permanently, never in a million years, and I’d just like to thank all our regulars and new customers who have come in since we reopened.
"It’s great to see everyone again after so long and we do appreciate their support.”
New measures include customers having to sign in when they arrive and sit at tables with only one member of any party allowed at the bar at any one time.
Protective screens are now on the bar with drinkers following a one-way system in and out of the pub.
Bob, who has run the pub for four years and turns 60 on July 17, said: “We are doing everything by the book as the safety of all our staff and customers is paramount.
"Most of our regulars have been back and the situation is starting to look more positive, touch wood, now we have been open a short while.”
The building, which was empty at the time of the 4am blaze, underwent a £500,000 refurbishment before the anticipated March 29 reopening.
Recalling the fire, Bob said: "I only live around the corner so I was there by 4.10am. I was in tears, it was awful. Hopefully we are due some good luck.”
He said the pub’s quiz nights and charity evenings will restart when social distancing restrictions allow.