Robert’s restoration of landmark could cost £1m

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A BUSINESSMAN has vowed to restore a town landmark to its former glory.

Robert Wills has bought The Falcon Hotel in High Street East, Uppingham, and has vowed to spend about £1m on improvements and renovations to make the hotel the centre of town life once again.

He said: “I knew the hotel when it was at its peak about 40 years ago and I’m determined to bring it back to a standard I would, and the town will, be proud of. It should be the centre of the town.

“We’re very excited about taking this on.”

Mr Wills intends to do whatever it takes to build the business back up again.

He already owns the Arnold Wills Group in Station Road, Uppingham, and Don Paddy’s in Market Place, Uppingham, and is chairman of business partnership Uppingham First, which works hard to promote the town.

He said: “We complete the purchase on February 16 and have three to four year plans to restore The Falcon to a top quality hotel. We’ve got some really good ideas.”

The previous owners Greene King bought in a number of managers to try and build up the business but decided to sell it late last year.

Mr Wills will trade at Don Paddy’s and The Falcon under the name Beaver Inns, and although he wants to keep the enterprises separate, he has asked Don Paddy’s manager James Torbell to become involved in the new project.

He said: “Our first task will be to close for three to four days for essential maintenance work. We will reopen and work around opening hours to restore and maintain the rest.”

The history of the hotel dates back to the 16th century when it was a coaching inn for people passing through the town.

Mr Wills hopes that within a few years the hotel will once again act as a resting place for visitors, and as an important part of the Uppingham social scene. It is still used by the Uppingham Fatstock Show for its annual supper and celebration.

Mr Wills said: “We want people visiting their children at Uppingham School to stay with us for the weekend, and look forward to visiting Uppingham.

“We are going to keep the Tap Bar open to the public. I remember a time when the bar was full all the time and that’s what we want it to be again.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”