Pubs and bars on Queen Street in Blackpool have been forced to close until further notice after a large fire broke out at the Walkabout venue on the same street at around 5:30am yesterday. No one is believed to have been injured but the building’s roof has collapsed.
Dave Daly, manager of the Castle Hotel and north-west chairman of Licensees Unite, said: “This was not a small fire; the roof has fallen in. We have already lost the Yates on that street and this will lead to a further loss of jobs and damage to the economy.
“It’s one of the busiest bars in the late night economy,” he added. “It’s a vital attraction for tourists and locals.”
Daly added that news of the fire placed an additional worry on the pub trade after the city’s proposals for an early morning restriction order (EMRO) in the area.
“This is on one of the core streets where the EMRO is planned,” he said. “This will have a massive impact on trade. At night that street comes alive.”
David Joanathan, a member of the bar staff at Molloy’s on Talbot Street nearby, said the fire is believed to have started in the flat above the pub, once the venue had closed. He also expressed his concerns for the pub trade.
“It’s a big venue. It feeds the street and builds the crowds in. This will have a big impact on the other venues nearby,” he said.
A statement issued by Walkabout owner Intertain said: “At this stage we do not know the extent of the damage or when we will be able to reopen. Our biggest concern was for the safety of our staff, so we’re very pleased that everyone got out OK and that no one was harmed.
“We are though very upset not to be trading at the moment especially as we head in to the important summer period. This is one of our freehold sites and has consistently been one of our most successful units since it opened in 2002. It has also shown fantastic returns following its full refurbishment in 2011.”
The company has found roles for some of the staff at other Walkabout’s across the country, in places like Newquay, Nottingham, Sheffield and Watford. Managers at other bars in Blackpool such as the The Litten Tree, Club Sanuk and North Pier have offered jobs to come of the affected staff.