The Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent has won the CAMRA and Historic England Pub Design Award for Conservation.

The tasteful conservation of a traditional taproom once owned by William Bass in Burton-on-Trent is being recognised in CAMRA and Historic England’s Pub Design Awards.

The Coopers Tavern operated as both a brewer’s house and a malt store and was the shopfront for Bass Imperial Stout in the 1800s. Over the years, it became the Brewer’s tap for Bass brewery and opened its doors as a public house.

When Joule’s Brewery took over the ownership it decided to carry out the careful refurbishment of a pub which has long been seen as an institution in Burton, but which had become rather run down through regular changes in ownership and management. The simply furnished interior of the historic pub has been conserved with appropriate materials and finishes, and the opportunity has been taken to expand into previously private spaces and create a couple of new rooms which share the character of the originals.

The awards are the most prestigious in this category where judges aim to display the very best in pub design with an emphasis on restoration. Starting in 1983, they recognise the unique status of the British pub unique throughout the world, and especially which reward-sensitive restoration.

CAMRA will be celebrating the achievement with a presentation event today, just days before the launch of its Summer of Pub campaign, which aims to promote pub-going over the warmer months and celebrate the contribution of the great British pub to our heritage.

Andrew Davison, chair of CAMRA’s judging panel said: “People sometimes assume that ‘conservation’ simply means ‘preservation in aspic’. However, Historic England, the sponsor of the award, has long advocated constructive conservation where the features which give a building its special character are retained and conserved, whilst changes which will give it a viable future are carried out as carefully and sympathetically as possible.

“This has been done to very good effect at the Coopers Tavern. The introduction of a ‘proper’ bar counter, which might have been expected to dismay lovers of a pub which has only the tiniest of counters in the historic tap room, has been handled with great care whilst new public rooms have been created from private accommodation in a way which is totally in keeping with the historic core. A very worthy winner of this award.”

Vicky Shirley of Joule’s said: “The nations pub stock is unique in the world, often comprising of buildings that have stood for centuries forming the central hub of our sociability. There is no parallel in the world for the British pub – the best of them have our DNA soaked into the walls, and we still use them today as generations have before us.”

“Joule’s has a tradition established in the pub trade – it’s very much our root, so we are immensely proud to have been recognised by CAMRA and English Heritage for the iconic site of the Coopers Tavern itself. Joules’ is passionate about the British pub, it’s our heartbeat, and one of the reasons we only sell our beer in pubs – and never in supermarkets.”

Marie Poole, Joule’s Project Manager for the Coopers Tavern explains: “The challenge was to remodel, improve the facility, improve the flow and preserve the essential nature of the pub and respect the Coopers unique heritage above all.”

Steve Nuttall, Joule’s Managing Director adds: “We are delighted with this award and the recognition of our approach to pub restoration. The Cooper’s Tavern has been a critical project for us over the last few years; we hope to not only maintain this standard but continue it going forward with the new development of ‘Crown Wharf’ in Joule’s home town where we are building a purpose-built Taphouse and Community Theatre.”

A presentation event for the pub will be taking on 23 May at 12 noon, which is open to the press.

Presentation event: Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent, 23 May @12 pm

Images of the pub are available here.

The Pub Design Awards, run in conjunction with Historic England, recognise the very best in British pub architecture and design. This year’s winners include:

  • The Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis for a refurbishment project described as a ‘labour of love’ by Palmers Brewery which brought the tired and dated seaside inn into the modern era
  • The Royal Pavilion in Ramsgate for the conversion of a dilapidated pavilion to a bustling seaside pub by Wetherspoons
  • The Slaughterhouse in Guernsey for the inspired conversion of a historic slaughterhouse into a unique and distinctive pub in the hub of St Peter’s Port by R W Randall
  • The Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent for Joules’ Brewery’s tasteful conservation of the historic tap house dating back to the 1800s
  • The Cardigan Arms in Leeds which was saved from closure by Kirstall Brewery, which turned around the pub’s fortunes

Pubs that were highly commended include:

  • The Sekforde Arms, Londonfor its restoration after nearly 200 years of serving pints
  • The Butcher’s Hook, Thornburywhich was left empty and derelict before significant investment brought the former butcher shop back to life
  • The Draughtsman Alehouse, Doncasterwhich was transformed from a disused storage area into a bustling micropub on platform 3b of Doncaster rail station