A MAN who snapped up a Homes Under the Hammer property without even stepping inside has forked out £500,000 – and unearthed treasures.
David Gorton bought The Old Cottage Pub, in Margate, at auction for £90,000 on his credit card after spotting an advert on his computer.
David Gorton bought The Old Cottage Pub[/caption]
The ex-fireman, 68, has been renovating his 17th century boozer[/caption]
Gorton has been doing up the old pub[/caption]
The ex-fireman, 68, has been renovating his 17th century boozer, renamed Gorton’s in honour of his late father Bob Gorton, ever since.
He told PA Real life: “I’m about to go to bed, the computer lights up, nothing to do with me, and I’m looking at a picture of the front of the building with the lot number 49 in the corner.
“It looked like a dog’s dinner, it was horrendous,” said David.
“At that time, pubs were like confetti, they were dying a death and everyone was selling.
“To buy a pub in those days, you’d have to be an idiot, but I thought, well, I can afford to be a bit of an idiot.”
Nevertheless, David went to the Clive Emson Auctioneers auction, held in the Ramada Hotel and Resort, having never visited the pub or owned a commercial business.
“I put my hand up, everyone in the room looked at me and I thought what have I done?,” explained the pub owner.
“Then I phoned the bank and my legs were physically shaking.
“I had to pay 10% of the £90,000 there and then, so I phoned the bank and said can you help me out here, I’ve come down here with no money so I’m going to use the card I’ve got in my wallet to buy this pub, and there was a long silence.”
He originally planned to transform the property within two years after taking on the mammoth project in 2009, but a series of setbacks saw David working tirelessly for over a decade.
Planning nightmares arose after a Victorian archway in the cellar collapsed.
“It cost me £155,000 for a block and beam system and I totally replaced the roof of the cellar and made it 100 per cent safe,” said David.
But, David and his wife Dennise, 58, have also discovered a hoard of historical artefacts, including a stash of silver tableware stuffed up the chimney and a filled-in smugglers tunnel leading up to the nearby church.
The businessman found an Oliver Cromwell silver shilling dating back to 1658 under the floorboards.
He suspects the priceless treasure may have been dropped by one of the pub’s earliest customers.
David has also stumbled upon a fireplace and bread oven from 1650, a canon ball, six torpedo bottles and a wooden beam which had been salvaged from a 17th century ship.
“It means that beam was probably sailing the high seas for at least 80 to 100 years before 1650, so it’s absolutely precious,” said David.
Finding the impressive artifacts helped boost David during renovations as he claimed it was probably the longest project to appear on the BBC show Homes Under The Hammer.
“It’s just been a really long slog,” said David.
“It’s not about the money.
“I don’t care if there’s only six people in the window when I walk past at night, enjoying themselves, laughing with a glass of drink in their hand.
“It will be the most wonderful moment I can imagine.”
Now, David just needs to gain his liquor licence, planning permission for a new sign and a kitchen extractor pipe ahead of the highly anticipated opening.
“If my application is approved we will be open this summer, but if they turn it down again it’s going to take me another 46 weeks to appeal,” added the owner.
Thanet District Council previously denied David planning permission for his new pub sign because it was too low.
David’s interest in pubs was sparked after he suffered an injury as a fireman in the late 1990s.
He began inspecting West End pubs and restaurants’ liquor certification and learned how the business operated.
When he retired a few years later in 1998, the savvy businessman bought a buy-to-let property in Sidcup for £50,000, which is now worth around £250,000.
He then snapped up another property in the same block a year later, and by November 2010, he had bought all nine properties in the building.
This money offered him the chance to buy The Old Cottage Pub and carry out extensive renovations – which have cost him £500,000.
It’s coming along nicely after renovations[/caption]