AN historic former school house could be turned back into a restaurant as part of fresh plans to revitalise it.
The former St George’s School, which was built in 1847, has had a mixed history and previous attempts to make use of the building have had little success.
But the current owner, Clarence House Properties Ltd, is hoping its innovative scheme, which also includes a number of one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors, will capture the imagination.
Bolton-based architect Neil Pike was asked to come up with ideas to make the Topp Way frontage of the building more attractive.
He said: “We felt that the back of the building that looks out on to Topp Way had no presence so we thought a restaurant, with a big expanse of glass, would not only revitalise the building but the whole area.
“There must be thousands of potential customers drive past the building every day. The apartments would be aimed at people wanting urban living.”
Under the new plans, the front of the building, in Clarence Street, would be unchanged.
Part of the original building was demolished to make way for Topp Way — the northern section of the Bolton ring road, which was constructed in the early 1980s.
Property developer Desmond Duxbury snapped up the Grade II listed building for just £1 from the former Greater Manchester Council in 1984 and opened it as Benjamin Topp’s bar and restaurant two years later.
The original pub venture, and the ring road, was named after the real-life Benjamin Topp, a local trade unionist and JP.
In 1994, then-Bolton Wanderers striker John McGinlay took over the pub and turned it into a sports bar named McGinlay’s.
It was later a cabaret bar called Absolutely Fabulous, but has since been used as a furniture showroom.
The latest plans have been welcomed by the Bolton Historical Society.
Brian Tetlow, the society’s chairman, said: “It is a great example of a Dutch Flemish facade and obviously anything that retains that has to be a good thing.”