An exciting new phase in the history of 29 Blakey Moor has begun. James and Katy (of the Drummer’s Arms, King William Street) agreed to take on this historic pub and help us ensure it isn’t left vacant while we undertake improvement works.
Despite the property being in a terrible condition, the pair took the challenge head-on and got straight to work. Miraculously, within just a few weeks they managed to transform the place, and last week re-launched as The Lemon Tree.
As part of the Council’s wider masterplan for the Blakey Moor area, Reel Cinema Ltd acquired the former Jubilee Pub from Thwaites back in August. We knew the property was in pretty bad shape, but no one was expecting things to be quite so bad.
The pub had been trading until relatively recently, so other than being pretty grubby and tired the ground floor was in a relatively good condition. It wasn’t until we ventured upstairs that we saw the true extent of the problem. Tiles were missing from the roof and water had been coming in for a long time causing significant damage to both the second and first floors.
To ensure the property was safe, we worked with the new owner to undertake some temporary repairs. Local agents Lea Hough and Co have now been appointed to develop a full renovation scheme to be 80% grant funded by the Townscape Heritage Project. The investment needed is likely to be in excess of £100,000 and will repair the roof, address some structural issues, treat damp and rot, repair brickwork and restore historic windows and other features. We hope that this work will start in the New Year, but we didn’t want the property to be left vacant in the meantime and who on earth would be brave enough to take on a project like this?
Then James and Katy came to the rescue.
After years of experiences running a pop-up bar hire company at private events and festivals and a homebrew business, James and Kate Quayle from Darwen decided to set down some roots in a property and pioneer Blackburn’s first micro bar – The Drummers Arms. A year later, their business is thriving and its success has acted as a catalyst for a number of other new food and drink venues across the town centre, helping to reinvigorate Blackburn’s evening economy.
When they said they were interested we couldn’t believe it. They understood the constraints of the property, and that we would have to undertake major construction works around them, but this didn’t phase them. Like us, they could see the potential and were passionate about making sure Blackburn didn’t lose another pub.
The owner liked their style and agreed a favourable lease. The Council awarded a small grant to assist with the clean up and they got stuck in.
There was so much to do. A tone of rubbish was removed, carpets cleaned, wood sanded, walls painted, heating and bar equipment installed, kitchen and toilets refurbished.
The ground floor is now looking amazing. The bar has been restored, they’ve introduced a lovely shade of blue to the walls and used pallet wood to give the dance floor and kitchen areas a more edgy feel. Even the 60’s style carpet has come up a treat and looks pretty in-keeping with the vibe of the place.
The Lemon Tree opened for business last week and brings yet another fabulous and friendly pub to our project area. The pub is open daily from 11am serving craft beers, house ales, gins, coffee and an amazing street food menu provided by their partner Spicy Jack.
They plan to introduce live music nights and have some big ideas for utilising the generous beer garden in the summer.
Thanks to Reel Cinema, the Townscape Heritage Project and James and Katy’s hard work and vision, the future for 29 Blakey Moor is now very bright.