Ex-pub serves up new office space

Darren Blake and James Hopkinson at their new offices in the former Porthole pub. Picture by Simon Williams.
Darren Blake and James Hopkinson at their new offices in the former Porthole pub. Picture by Simon Williams.

A former pub has been given a new lease of life after a £500,000 investment.

The Porthole pub, also known as the Golden Fleece, served customers on North Shields Fish Quay for more than 100 years before closing its doors earlier this year.

And now the building has opened for business again as the new commercial headquarters of architectural firm Blake Hopkinson after a seven-month refurbishment.

Darren Blake, partner at Blake Hopkinson Architects, said: “This is an exciting time for our business as we unveil our unique new base.

“We wanted to honour the Porthole’s history and test the skills of our team by restoring the façade and retaining where possible the character of such an iconic building.

“The ground floor interior has been converted into a spacious open plan office. Upstairs we refurbished the residential part to create three new commercial units to let to smaller businesses.”

The £500,000 project included complete restoration of the original windows and historic façade of the building to overcome years of neglect.

A number of original features have also been retained, including fireplaces and decorative plasterwork to sit alongside the more contemporary features in the open plan offices.

A modern, two storey-side extension has been added to create a river-side meeting room and office space with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the water.

A large portion of the investment budget was set aside to improve the fabric of the 100-year-old building in a bid to overcome years of poor maintenance.

James Hopkinson, partner at Blake Hopkinson, said: “The refurbishment of the Porthole has been a huge undertaking, but one that as a business we were very ready to take.

“Having outgrown our previous offices on the fish quay, our new headquarters needed to characterise the creative and bold approach to commercial architectural design we have become known for.

“We felt that the Grade II listed building was the perfect place for our business to grow as we seek to develop the firm into one of the key architectural practices in the region. We are absolutely delighted with the final result.”

He added: “Bringing the Porthole back into use is a special moment for the fish quay area but also a real landmark for Blake Hopkinson.

“Our new commercial headquarters is finally open for business and we are at the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in our company history.”

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking played a key role in helping the team to get the right financing in place to push forward in the refurbishment of the Porthole.

Dean Whitlie, relationship manager, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Blake Hopkinson is a dynamic practice supported by a talented team, so it’s great to see the business showcasing its creativity in reviving this part of North Shields’ history.

“We’re pleased to have played a part in the redevelopment, and will continue to support Blake Hopkinson as it pursues its growth ambitions.”

For further information on Blake Hopkinson Architecture, visit www.bharchitects.co.uk