WORK started on Monday on a major £290,000 refurbishment of The Great Western pub in Corsham by Heineken’s pub business, Star Pubs & Bars.

The revamp of the former railway-related pub in Pound Pill, Corsham, is being done in partnership with new licensees, Michael and Kimara Yeomans.

The investment is designed to bring the pub into the 21st century, improve the facilities and decor, enabling The Great Western to introduce food and coffee for the first time and broaden its appeal to families.

But the pub will not be re-named following a listing on the company’s website as the Wily Fox. It will retain The Great Western name, a company spokesman said.

Michael said: “Kimara and I are friendly, outgoing people and are looking forward to moving to Corsham with our dogs, Abby and Jethro, getting to know locals and making the Great Western the hub of the community.

“The refurbishment will create more space and a comfortable, inviting interior. The pub dates back to when the railway line was being built, so with talk of reinstating a Corsham station, it’s only fitting that The Great Western is brought into the 21st century.”

Neil Convery, Star Pubs & Bars operations and sales director said: “Heineken is a passionate supporter of the great British pub and is investing in pubs like The Great Western to ensure they deliver excellent quality, attract customers and thrive at the heart of their communities for years to come.

“Michael has the experience needed and the passion to create a great community pub. We’re delighted to help Michael to realise his dream and to provide Corsham with a great community pub.”

The pub closed on Monday August 27 and will re-open in late October with eight jobs being created. The changes will almost double the seating capacity inside.

As well as a complete internal and external redecoration, the pub will also get a light and airy dining conservatory, a new commercial kitchen and an upgrade of the loos, including a larger ladies which will include a baby changing facility.

The interior is being given a new, brighter look whilst retaining features like beams and flagstones, creating a modern country pub. The walls are being panelled and decorated in a mix of mellow green, grey and rust hues.

The lounge area and snug will have new comfy armchairs and a feature fireplace, whilst the bar will have deep buttoned seating, a wine display and feature wall and fireplace.

Outside, the pub will be redecorated with new signage and lighting. An area is also being created in front of the new conservatory for alfresco drinking and dining.

In the spring, the large beer garden will also be transformed with landscaping, a child-friendly play area and new tables and chairs seating 56.

Michael and Kimara Yeomans have relocated from South Africa to become licensees of the pub, which has a catchment of more than 26,000 people living within a ten-minute drive.

Having worked in leisure and sports recreation in the Middle East and Africa, taking on The Great Western was an opportunity for Michael to realise a life-long dream to run his own pub.

The menu will be traditional home-cooked pub favourites, such as steaks, burgers, fish and chips and sausage and mash. The couple also intend to introduce Corsham residents to some South African dishes like Eiseein - Crispy Ham hock served with mash potato or chips and vegetables.

The drinks range is being extended, with Heineken Extra Cold and other premium beers and ciders introduced as well as a wide selection of wines from around the world, including South African wines that Michael and Kimara know and love.

Fresh barista-style coffee and free wi-fi will also be available as well as Sky sports, quiz nights and regular monthly live entertainment. The couple intend to retain the darts teams and are looking to attract new players.

The refurbishment is part of £44 million that Heineken UK announced earlier in the year that it is investing in its pubs this year, bringing its total expenditure on its pubs to almost £140 million over the past five years.