A FORMER public toilet has been transformed into a micropub, creating a “warm and friendly” atmosphere for customers. 

Craftwerk, on Crown Hill off Rayleigh High Street, is the third pub under the ownership of Michelle Reynolds and her husband Steve - and the second disused toilet block they’ve overhauled. 

After the toilet closed in 2019, they submitted plans to have it converted and after years of hard work, it has now thrown open its doors to residents. 

Echo: The former public loos have been transformed into a stylish pub.The former public loos have been transformed into a stylish pub. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)

Owner Michelle Reynolds, 40, said: “It’s a really beautiful and unique Victorian building in a great location close to the High Street.

“We fell in love with it. It’s good for Rayleigh.”

Echo: The snug pub can welcome up to 30 punters.The snug pub can welcome up to 30 punters. (Image: Michelle Reynolds)

Husband Steve, 46, added: “We’re offering a safe space to escape and be welcomed into a low-key bar with a warm and friendly atmosphere.

“We really enjoy hospitality. It’s our passion. We like seeking out new and exciting drinks to offer our customers."

Echo: 'Please wash your hands' - the building has retained some of its original features.'Please wash your hands' - the building has retained some of its original features. (Image: Ben Shahrabi)

The duo has opened two other locations in recent years, with the first Craftwerk bar opening in Alexandra Street, Southend, in 2019.

A second venue quickly followed last year, in another disused former toilet block in Westcliff named “West Road Tap”.

Similar to West Road Tap, Michelle and Steve plan to offer a variety of outdoor food pop-ups in the summer, from south Essex-based street food vendors.

Leigh-based Legra Tap Brewery has been established as a house line, making it a permanent offering at the pub.

Echo: The bar stocks locally-brewed and international ales.The bar stocks locally-brewed and international ales. (Image: Michelle Reynolds)

Steve added: “We’ve also got beers from around the world, including from Oslo. It’s a balance between local breweries and more far-reaching ones.”

Michelle and Steve share decades of hospitality experience, with Michelle joining the industry aged 14. She ran Paul Pry in High Road for several years before opening her own business with her husband.

Despite it being a challenging time for the hospitality industry, the couple are confident enough to expand their business.

Steve added: “We’re only going for smaller units as they’re easier to manage. I wouldn’t like to take on a really big pub only to close down.

“We can keep it personal and build a regular clientele that we can form good relationships with.”