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Darlington hotel rises from the ashes
TOWN centre trade in Darlington could receive a welcome boost with the reopening of a landmark hotel devastated by fire in 2008.
The blaze at the King’s Head Hotel – now known as the Mercure Darlington Kings Hotel – in Priestgate, was one of the biggest the town had seen, with 60 firefighters battling for six hours.
Several shops underneath the grade II-listed building were forced to close temporarily, and unsightly scaffolding remained in place for nearly three years, prompting some councillors to express concern that the blighted By Alexa Copeland firstname.lastname@example.org Landmark hotel reopens after devastating blaze in 2008 building was damaging the town centre’s prospects.
Now it is a case of back to business following the 83- room hotel’s official reopening after an £8m revamp, which should once again see it accommodate coachloads of visitors to the town.
The hotel, owned by the Cairn Group, has received a four-star Mercure brand makeover and boasts a refurbished ballroom, function rooms, bar and cafe area, and is awaiting its licence to host civil partnership ceremonies.
Councillor Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said its rejuvenation was good news for the town.
“I am delighted that this iconic building has reopened to the public,” he said.
“A new look has been given to an old friend.
“The workmanship and quality of the refit is amazing and has certainly breathed life back into the hotel.
“It is able, once again, to offer first class accommodation in the heart of the town centre.
“I urge local people to pop in to see for themselves the transformation and to see what the hotel has to offer.”
Darlington’s mayor, Councillor Paul Baldwin, cut the ceremonial ribbon at last night’s ceremony and said: “It is a bit of landmark in the town. It has been here for hundreds of years and they have spent £8m turning it into a fabulous venue.
“Of course, they have had difficulties along the way.
“It is ten times more difficult when you are trying to look after a listed building and consider businesses nearby, so they have put a lot of effort and time into safeguarding all those things.”
A spokesman for the Cairn Group said the company hoped the hotel would become a hub for the town and a real asset to the local economy.
He added: “It is one of the most iconic buildings in the town and it is a source of great pride for us to bring it back to its former glory.”