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Saturday, 8 June 2019

Death of a pub

"Borrowed" from the Liverpool Echo article,
which used a picture I'd taken without credit.
The Blundell Arms in Birkdale was for more than 30 years the home of the Bothy Folk Club of which I'm a resident singer. Regrettably, over many years the pub was run into the ground by the pubco and deteriorated from respectable street corner local to scruffy and, frankly, slightly dodgy dive. The Bothy was increasingly made to feel unwelcome, despite the amount of custom it brought in every Sunday night, and moved elsewhere. Finally, and perhaps inevitably, on 6 March 2016 the pub closed its doors for the final time.

Shortly afterwards, a campaign to convert it into a community pub was set up by Jason MacCormack and succeeded in gaining Asset of Community Value (ACV) status for it. The site on which the pub sits is large, and developers bought it to turn it into housing, leading to something of an impasse.

There the matter had remained until last weekend when, according to the Liverpool Echo, a huge fire swept through the building. The cause of the fire has not yet been announced, but empty buildings with no gas or electricity supply don't tend to go on fire spontaneously. I have read three different speculative explanations, although obviously I have no idea which is the right one:
  • Vandalism.
  • An accident by homeless people who, it has been said, were staying in the building.
  • A convenient fire to scupper the community pub campaign.
The campaign has said it will try to get an estimate of the cost of repairing the fire damage to see whether they can still proceed, but even if they can, there's no doubt their task has become considerably harder. I wish them luck, but I fear it will soon be a building site.