Market Drayton hotel blaze: Workers set to start long-awaited refurbishment

Craftsmen could soon be sent in at a derelict Market Drayton hotel to kick-start a long-overdue renovation job following a dramatic blaze.

The rear of the Corbet Arms Inn
The rear of the Corbet Arms Inn

The Grade II listed Corbet Arms Inn in Market Drayton's High Street, once a hub for the town, has been unloved for a number of years, with much of the 17th century building closed off and becoming increasingly exposed to the elements.

Local businessman Maroof Shah acquired the building in 2009 and announced grand plans to refurbish the site and bring it back into use.

Plans back then included restoring the ballroom, creating a restaurant serving English and Asian food, and opening a coffee shop.

The project has faced several setbacks in the intervening years because of issues including frequent vandalism attacks and the theft of various metals.

And two weeks ago a fire started in the hotel, leading to dramatic scenes of smoke billowing from the upper floor windows and nearby roads being closed off by firefighters as they battled the blaze.

Emergency services at the scene of the fire. Photo: Market Drayton Fire Station.

Fortunately the only part of the building occupied today, a Post Office in the ground floor, was largely unaffected and was open the following day.

Saiqa Shah manages the Post Office, which moved into the Corbet Arms in 2014, and is the daughter of Mr Shah.

She said that Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have now been able to share the findings of their fire investigation.

She said: "They say it was faulty electrics, because underneath the ballroom floor there is a set of boilers. With the wood being very dry they assume the sparks came from there and it's a small part of the ballroom that caught fire, with it being a derelict building.

The ground floor of the hotel hosts the Post Office

"All credit to the fire service, they were here very quickly and we were very grateful to them for being on their guard.

"All of the community, all of the fire service, we really appreciate it. So many people have come into the shop to see us because they thought the Post Office went up as well.

"We're in a very loving community."

She said that it was "heartbreaking" to see the building fall into disrepair but that her father, having sold his Costcutters shop elsewhere in the town earlier this year and freed up money, was planning to reboot the Corbet Arms project.

"He's got funds available in the town, his first mission is to get the ballroom up and running again.

"We've got electricians and plumbers coming in hopefully soon."

Some of the damage from the fire

But she warned that it was "a very big job" and "there's a plan in motion but it will take a while".

"Hopefully we can make the town proud of what we're doing."

Meanwhile the Market Drayton Community Enterprise, a charity in the town which had previously approached Mr Shah about the possibility of taking over part of the building and using charity rates relief to refurbish it, is open to renewed discussions with the owner.

The group's secretary Eric Davis said that residents "could not fail to be concerned for the future prospects of the Corbet Arms" and that alternative avenues to explore might include approaching Historic England or the Architectural Historic Fund.

But he said that he and colleagues would welcome resuming dialogue with Mr Shah.

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