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Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

Kentish Hare, a quaint country pub nestled in the idyllic village of Bidborough, near Tunbridge Wells, has recently opened to the public.

The public inn was previously named The Hare & Hounds and was owned by Enterprise Inns; a property developer and owner of over 5000 pubs. Following a downturn in the pub trade and suffering a series of losses Enterprise were potentially looking to sell the plot of land to property developers.

Sir Keith & Lady Maureen Mills, current owners of the Kentish Hare and residents of Bidborough, were concerned at the potential effect on the village community if their village local was to be sold and turned into a housing development. In order to save the pub they bought the site from Enterprise and have undertaken a six month renovation project in a bid to transform the site from its previously shabby state of repair.

Sir Keith Mills, who was the Deputy Chairman of the London Olympics’ Organising Committee, is better known for inventing air miles and the Nectar loyalty card scheme used by Sainsbury’s and BP. Sir Keith felt the village pub was at the heart of the community and so he and his wife, Lady Maureen have taken on the project of completely refurbishing the venue.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

Sedac Ltd, an experienced local building contractor, were appointed as the main contractor for the project following a recommendation from an ex-client. Work began in October 2013 and the on-site team faced a significant task as the pub was extremely tired and in desperate need of some serious attention.

Premier Construction caught up with Greg Heath, the Managing Director of Sedac, to find out more about the development of the pub which opened on the 10th May this year. Greg informed us that there had previously been some poor attempts to renovate the building and so the Site Manager Barry Bowern & his team on site had to strip back to the basic structure and start again.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

The roof was taken off and replaced, the building was completely stripped out and the roof structure and coverings replaced. The team also partially rebuilt the chimneys and removed all of the internal linings and every plastered surface. The extensive renovation also included removing the site’s existing bars and gutting the kitchen.

The project also included a single storey kitchen extension and a complete overhaul of the second floor staff accommodation. The ground floor public areas including the two bars and the venue’s restaurant were also all completely revamped and updated; new plasterboards, new ceilings, new panelling, new floors and new tiling were installed throughout.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

Greg added:

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that every single surface in the building has been stripped off and relined. The main features of the transformed pub include two brand new bespoke bars and an impressive extended kitchen area, as well as the installation of traditional panelling and oak floors. The refurbishment has brought the building up to date both aesthetically and technically whilst Lady Mills has been very thoughtful with the interior design and fitting out of the building. Lady Mills was assisted with the interior works by architects, Lime House Design Partnership, who diligently dealt with the management of the project from planning to handover.

The whole building has been refurbished up to a modern standard despite being at its heart, a simple country pub. The venue seats 60 covers inside and thanks to a lovely external seating area there is room for another 100 covers.”

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

The outside space has been carefully designed and the owners have taken a lot of time to ensure the space retains a country feel. As well as renovating the ground floor, the first floor has also undergone a series of changes including works to the kitchen, staff room and toilets; this transformation will enhance the operational side of the pub. All of the staff accommodation on the second floor has also been updated.

Greg said the project has been finished to a high quality:

“The end result of The Kentish Hare in terms of aesthetics has been excellent; initially the project was scheduled to last four months but took six months as further works were required after subsequent building issues were discovered. The client, architects and Sedac would not permit any shortcuts and we took everything back to basics and dealt with it properly.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

Although this approach took a little while longer and increased the costs of the project, the end result was definitely more in line with what the clients wanted. We did not want to just carry out a series of cosmetic repairs to the fabric of the building and the attention to detail has been of paramount importance to all involved.”

Greg is certain that the owners have achieved exactly what was needed with the restoration works at the Kentish Hare and as the main contractor he is proud of what his team have done during the renovation. He added:

“We are happy with the job especially bearing in mind the tight time scales and the number of alterations that had to be made to the original building. We are proud to add this project to our portfolio and it will undoubtedly feature on our website.”

Sedac are based just outside Tunbridge Wells in Crowborough and work right across the south east of the country, serving customers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and London. The firm was established in 1984 and has steadily expanded since its inception into a building contractor with an enviable reputation.

The company turns over an impressive £5 million each year and currently has a workforce of 35 employees. Approximately two thirds of staff are skilled trades operatives, many with a variety of trade backgrounds. The remainder of the firm’s employees provides management and administrative support.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

Sedac work across a variety of sectors and provide services such as refurbishment works, alterations, new builds, maintenance, structural repairs, underpinning, external works, as well as dealing with fire and floor damage. The firm works across the following sectors; residential, commercial, education, government, Listed and historic sites, healthcare and leisure.

RTA Joinery Ltd

Specialising in bespoke joinery, RTA Joinery Ltd is a company based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent offering services to private and commercial sectors. Having been in operation since 1980, the business has completed many commendable projects such as refurbishments and new large upscale housing in Wimbledon and the surrounding area.

Whether it is a new build or a renovation, RTA can manufacture doors, windows, conservatories, cabinetry and stairs. Contributing to the leisure sector, RTA Joinery have finalised developments such as Tom’s Kitchen, Canary Wharf.

Another project that the company has completed is The Kentish Hare, having supplied the two main bars and custom-built entry doors for the pub restaurant. The Kentish Hare is a recently developed eatery situated in Kent, offering a divine lunch menu, dinner menu and wine list.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

RTA Joinery’s Foreman, Tristan Roberts said:

“It’s a very good opportunity to be able to work on a variety of different projects, knowing that there is always something diverse to build or develop. As a joinery business we pride ourselves on quality and care to lead to customer satisfaction.”

For further information, please visit: www.rtajoinery.co.uk.

M L Corcoran Electrical Contractors

M L Corcoran Electrical Contractors specialise in industrial, commercial and domestic electrical installation. The company has been in operation for 25 years.

Most recently have worked on pub and hotel projects in the Tunbridge Wells area. Including the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, The Leicester Arms and The Brew House. Working on the Kentish Hare, the company provided all of the electrical installations.

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

M L Corcoran Electrical Contractors company owner, Mike Corcoran said:

“This project was important to be involved with because the pub was in danger of being demolished. We have worked with the company for a number of years.”

He added:

“We pride ourselves in giving a good installation at competitive prices and working together with all parties on a project to create a team ethic.”

Kentish Hare, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells

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