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.


  1. Clive Pownceby8 June 2019 at 15:38

    The days of large pubs such as the Blundell which once had two bowling greens, 12 letting rooms upstairs, 2 full-size snooker tables, and kennels for hounds (believe it so) which were involved in the 'sport' of hare-coursing at Altcar have been over for a long time. The Shakespeare is another now demolished, similarly-sized Southport pub which would sometimes host the Bothy when renovations, draymen's strikes et al closed The Dell temporarily.
    Nev is right to strike a note of doom - I can't see anything now being retrieved, mores the pity.
    Happy days they were mostly for the Folk Club (though I could relate some horror stories) and for me personally at The Blundell. I first set foot in there in 1966!!!!
    (acting Bothy Orgainser 1975 to date)

  2. PS
    An 'Orgainser' is a cross between an Organiser and a 'gainer' as in someone who gets more than he/she gives!!!!

    1. Clive: I thought as Bothy 'orgainser' all you got was worry lines and ulcers!

  3. The Liverpool Echo owes you an apology, Nev. I have had two photographs removed from "Rhymes and Routes", presumably because I have used them without the owner's permission (even though there was no copyright warning on the photographs in the first place).If you do receive an apology, it either won't be printed at all, or else hidden on one of the middle pages.

    1. Thanks, Geoff. The Midweek Visiter, part of the same group, also used a photo of mine this week, this time of the Imperial - again without a credit.

  4. Will get my camera out on Monday
    However I guess the owners of the building would be the ones to do repairs.

    1. I doubt the current owners would do any repairs to the pub, seeing that they want to knock it down and redevelop the site as houses.

  5. Nothing to do with the Blundell, which I never set foot in, but I sympathise with you Nev about plagiarism by the media. When I was living in France, I was asked to write an article on fishing in La Creuse for an on-line magazine, which I did to good effect, accompanied by several of my own photographs. Unpaid, of course. Imagine my surprise when these turned up in everything from tourist leaflets to estate agent brochures without a by your leave. That's business for you.

    1. That's even worse, Mike. At least I do have some kind of relationship with the Visiter (unpaid correspondent). They used to credit photos; I've no idea why they don't any more.


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