Pubs are more than just local businesses.
For many, they are community institutions that sit as the bedrock of meeting friends, life partners, and celebrating life events.
So when one burns down, the dread and heartbreak is felt by so many more than those who run the watering holes.
In Lancashire, many popular pubs have recently been decimated by fires.
This includes in Preston, Chorley, Burnley, and Lancaster.
The future has looked bleak for many but some offer a glimmer of hope with reopening plans in place for one particular venue.
LancsLive has gone through the archives as we look back on some of the worst pub fires in recent years – and what is happening with the venues now:
Boars Head, Barton
The Boars Head at Barton, north of Preston, went up in smoke in July 2019.
Four fire engines and an aerial ladder team were called to the A6 Garstang Road pub, with the watering hole left as a burnt shell.
The pub itself closed in 2016.
Since then, multiple bids have been put in place to bulldoze the property for new housing.
As recently as last month, plans were registered to build nine new houses on the pub site and its car park.
The Barton Heritage Group has for years fought to see the 200-year-old pub rise from the ashes and reopen as more than just a public house.
In 2020, its members made a direct appeal to the site’s owners to abandon their housing plans and instead create a hub for a community which they say is bereft of amenities.
Villager Mark Warren said at the time: “We don’t need extra houses – Barton is awash with them – but what is required is something in the village centre.”
“There is nowhere here to meet or to shop for basic staples – a community hub would definitely be well used,” fellow resident Rosemary McLean said.
No final yes or no has been given for the latest housing plans for the site with a decision likely in the coming months.
The Sirloin, Hoghton
The Sirloin pub at Hoghton, rural Chorley, suffered a huge fire in early February 2019.
Thankfully there were no casualties but the pub, dating back to 1617, was left in complete ruin with flames destroying its roof.
Six fire engines were called to battle the fire but they could not save the building despite bringing it under control in around two hours.
Sadly, The Sirloin remains permanently closed as a result of the blaze.
The Stork, Conder Green
A community was left gutted when The Stork Inn at Conder Green caught fire in January 2020.
The watering hole, to the south of Lancaster near Galgate, was left in ruins after an early morning fire.
Black smoke filled the skies with the two-storey pub, dating back to 1660, well alight.
Fast-forward to June 2021 and plans are now under way to restore the pub back to its former glory – with an ice cream parlour to be added to the site.
Venue owners Ei Group has now submitted plans to Lancaster City Council to restore the building.
These include new roof beams and floor structures as well as the reinstatement of a modern lean-to extension. An ice cream parlour will be added to the restaurant as well as a revamped bar and lounge area
Before then, the latest public message from the pub came in on the one year anniversary of the pub (January 28), where bosses said the pub was being rebuilt “slowly”.
They said: “12 months today … 12 whole months we got the worst news we could imagine … little did we know the devastation and damage that was waiting for us. It’s been very tough year in the hospitality trade for everybody this year, even more so when you lose a pub at the beginning of a pandemic. The pub is being rebuilt slowly, we now have a roof on and it’s now drying out inside.
“Plans are being put together for how the pub should look and designed. We are working closely with English Heritage and the Planning Department. We miss our staff and customers, the laughs we had with locals who are friends and story time at the end of the bar.”
Halton Castle Inn, Ormskirk
Last October a fire broke out at the closed Halton Castle Inn at Westhead, near Ormskirk.
Thick black smoke and flames could be seen coming from the disused property that closed in 2016.
As of last month, the pub site was bought by West Lancashire Borough Council.
The historic pub had already been levelled by this point, with the site now being used for housing.
The Duke of York, Burnley
The Duke of York pub in Burnley was firebombed during the 2001 Burnley Riots.
Landlady Marie Coulston told LancsLive she was forced to lock her customers in the pub cellar to keep them safe.
Her two sons, Darrol and Stephen, aged 11 and six at the time, had narrowly avoided injury during the attack when shards of glass had fallen over them.
The Grade II listed pub, in Colne Road, has recently been tuned into a block of flats on sale for £1.6m.
Agents Miller Metcalfe describe the property as ‘a substantial stone built Grade II listed former public house situated in a highly prominent main road location in the centre of Burnley’.
Grill & Grain at the Boatyard, Hoghton
In April 2017, the Grill & Grain at the Boatyard near Hoghton, rural Chorley, was devastated by a large fire.
60 firefighters from Blackburn, Darwen, Bamber Bridge, Preston, Hyndburn and Burnley were all called to battle the blaze.
Thankfully there were no casualties.
The fire happened following a £1m revamp from Thwaites.
To this day the venue has not reopened.
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