The former home of Walsall-born humorist Jerome K Jerome is set for a new lease of life after it was bought by a training firm.
The premises on Lichfield Street, Walsall, is best known for its links with the author of the all-time comedy classic Three Men In A Boat.
However, it has more recently been used as an office and was occupied by legal firm Addison O’Hare before it vacated the building after a merger with Enoch Evans.
Now, apprenticeship training and recruitment provider The Pathway Group is expanding its Midland operations after buying the property.
The house and links to the author’s family are referred to in the Municipal List Of Residents of 1861, and today the premises comprise over 5,000 sq ft in total.
Pathway Group said the investment shows its commitment to working in the Walsall area, as it also operates from a facility in Bridge Street.
Safaraz Ali, director of Pathway Group, said: “Walsall is a very important link in our chain of training operations across the Midlands.
“This opportunity materialised and we snapped it up. It allows us to further serve the sector and also demonstrates our commitment to Walsall going forward.”
Jerome K Jerome was born in Caldmore, Walsall, in May 1859 and achieved international fame with his hugely successful comic travelogue Three Men In A Boat, published in 1889.
The comic novel was an instant success and remains in print to this day.
Following publication of the book the number of registered Thames boats increased by 50 per cent in 12 months and Three Men In A Boat is still considered to have played a key role in the Thames becoming a tourist attraction.
In its first 20 years, the book sold over a million copies worldwide and has been adapted for the cinema, TV, radio and the stage. Jerome K Jerome died in June 1927 after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage whilst on a motoring tour.
The Post reported the property was on the market for £425,000 last year.
The sale to Pathway will see it used for training for health and social care and leadership and management and was brokered by CPBigwood.
The property is spread across three floors and a basement and it still has some original features, such as fire places.
Rob Watts, of CPBigwood’s commercial agency team, said: “It is a prominent, period building with plenty of history and could hardly be better situated.
“It is ideal for Pathway Group, especially as it means they are adding considerably to their facilities in Walsall. In addition the Jerome K Jerome connection gives them that extra kudos.”
Pathway Group has its headquarters in Birmingham and other offices in Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Newcastle-under-Lyme and London.
It offers a range of training provision, from retail to hospitality to cleaning to care.
It also offers traineeships and apprenticeships and provides training for people looking to gain work through the Work Programme and functional English and maths provision.