ONE of Southampton’s oldest buildings is set for a fresh lease of life – by becoming a pub and restaurant.

The 15th century Wool House used to house the city’s maritime museum, until that closed in September 2011.

But the Daily Echo can exclusively reveal that it is set to reopen as an open-plan brewery featuring a new tourist information centre for the city.

The ambitious scheme is the brainchild of the Southampton-based Dancing Man Brewery, whose bosses say it could create up to 30 jobs and would remain in keeping with the building’s historic past.

The Grade I-listed building, which was built in 1415 as a storehouse for wool, used to contain the city’s maritime museum but that was closed in September 2011 in a round of cost-cutting by the city council.

It remained empty until earlier this year, since when it has been used for a number of exhibitions and performances by local artists and performers.

Daily Echo: The Wool House pictured in 1904

But since the museum closed the council has been looking to lease it out commercially, and a 25-year lease has now been agreed with the brewery, which runs the nearby Platform Tavern.

Plans for the site feature an open-plan layout which would allow customers to watch ales being brewed before drinking them in the pub and eating locally-sourced produce in the restaurant.

Brewery boss Stewart Cross says it will have a maritime theme and could feature historic artefacts from the city council collection.

He said: “We want to bring it back to life and bring in more people than have visited over the past 30 to 50 years.”

The Wool House could also house a tourist information centre, something Southampton has lacked since the old one closed earlier this year.

The firm expects ten new jobs to be created initially, but that could rise to 30 over the next two or three years.

Daily Echo: Stewart Cross with Freddie Church and Mandy Lacey-Cross and dog Charlie.

A planning application is expected in the next few weeks, and if passed, work is expected to begin in the new year and could be completed by May.

It is understood the other bidder to run the site was an Indian restaurant chain.

The plans have been broadly welcomed by heritage and residents’ groups, who the brewery has consulted about the plans.

Arthur Jeffery, from the City of Southampton Society, said: “We are encouraged by the plans we have seen – they respect the building.”