Breathing newlife into townlandmark

Date: Friday 15th September 2017

IT’S one of Penrith’s landmark buildings, yet its historical contents have remained hidden from public view for years.

The former Two Lions public house in Great Dockray, once a thriving hub of the town’s social scene, today lies forlorn and empty, desperately awaiting a new lease of life.

The building’s owner, Sainsbury’s, which took it on at the time the company acquired the New Squares shopping development, has already sunk £250,000 in the last five years into making it watertight in order to protect the historically valuable features it contains, notably a heraldic ceiling.

That is a financial outlay the company cannot sustain, and it says it is in talks with a number of businesses about bringing the Two Lions back into use. New on the scene, however, is a group that has just been formed not only to try and safeguard the future of the building but to take a leading role in turning it into an asset for the community once more.

The task facing the group is not an easy one. The repair bill is likely to be large and it will require substantial funding from a variety of sources for the interior to be brought up to modern standards.

There is also no firm direction in which the group wants to head, calling instead for input and ideas from the public about what they would like to see from a rejuvenated Two Lions.

A public meeting to be held in the town on Tuesday should reveal more, and whether there is sufficient interest for the group’s aims to become a reality. The first step will be to acquire the lease of the building from Sainsbury’s, ideally for a token sum, and, if the company is unable to attract any better offers from the private sector, this is an ideal opportunity for the Two Lions to be placed in public hands and put to community use.