Transformation of Runcorn pub into Buddhist temple nearly complete

by Sam Yarwood, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News, Mar 14 2013

Cheshire, UK -- THE transformation of a popular Runcorn pub into a Buddhist temple is almost complete.

Officials from the UK Border Agency last month granted Wat Phra Singh UK – the charity that took over the historic building – a Type A licence to allow it to bring over monks from Thailand to work in the temple.

The five monks, including one Abbott, will be able to gain Tier 2 visas as long as they pass a B2 English language exam.

Tony Collacott, a trustee for Wat Phra Singh, which is a Southern tradition of Buddhism, is currently applying to the agency to have the Tier 2 visas changed to Tier 5.

The move would mean the monks will be able to gain their visas more quickly and would not have to sit the language exams.

However, it would limit their time in the UK to a maximum of two years.
Tony said: “The Tier 2 visa is for ministers of religion and the Tier 5 for religious workers.

“We just want to get them over as soon as possible.

“They’re the final piece in the temple.”

The pub, which was the backdrop of popular BBC sitcom Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps – written by Runcorn scriptwriter Susan Nickson – closed its doors to punters on New Year’s Eve.

Tony said he is thrilled with the support the charity has received from the community so far, and cannot wait to officially open the temple in time for Thai New Year in mid-April.

He added: “Thai New Year has always been the target.

“It is the perfect way to start a new year with a new temple.”

On Saturday, March 2, Wat Phra Singh UK held one of its popular Thai nights. More than 160 residents turned up for the event which was held at Birchfield Sports Club in Widnes.

Tony added: “The turnout was very encouraging, there was quite a lot of new faces and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”