FOLLOWING a refurbishment of more than £500,000, a pub’s manager says its first year in business has been a big success.

A grant of more than £265,000 was awarded in 2012 to bring The White Hart Hotel in Pontypool town centre back to its former glory.

The property’s New Inn owner, Sean O’Connor, also put in £250,000 of his own money.

The George Street pub has been redundant for a number of years, but was fully restored as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) project in Pontypool town centre.

It has been transformed into a bar, Italian restaurant and four bedroom B&B.

The White Hart staff held an opening evening in December, 2012.

Manager, Susi Ball, 33, says that since it opened it has been well supported by the community.

She said: “People were very inquisitive of what had been done to the building when we first opened and we still get people in now commenting on it.

“Everyone has praised the work as its an absolute transformation from the derelict building that once was.”

She said many of the period features on the outside of the building had been kept, adding: “It’s part of the charm of the inn, as a modern look would not sit well in this historic town.”

Ms Ball said in the first few months custom was steady, but now things had really picked up.

She said: “We have established a number of regulars, which is all that you can ask for in this trade, and we are getting busier and busier as time passes.”

The B&B has also proved to be a hit, with the rooms being fully booked since August.

She added: “Our position in the town means we are easily accessible to other areas, and are in an ideal location for people wanting to sightsee or for contractors here for business.”

The business resulted in four permanent positions being created and two temporary ones.

The £2.5m THI Project was funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government’s Targeted Match Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Pontypool Regeneration Partnership and Torfaen council.