Phoenix from ashes

Licencee Malcolm Moore and his wife Tracey with owner David Riley and his partner Denise Bennett of the Friends of Chernobyl's Children charity
Licencee Malcolm Moore and his wife Tracey with owner David Riley and his partner Denise Bennett of the Friends of Chernobyl's Children charity

A POPULAR Wigan pub is being brought back from the brink after ale enthusiasts feared it had been lost to housing.

The Bird i’th’Hand in Springfield, better known to locals as The ‘en ‘ole, is being renovated as a family-friendly community pub after it was forced to close its doors around three years ago and it was feared it would go the same way as so many other Wigan hostelries.

Indeed the owners of the building, which was revered by drinkers for its characterful, old-fashioned design and snug interior, originally applied for planning permission to turn the pub into housing. But it will now return to its original function after being acquired by Morecambe-based businessman David Riley.

The pub will be run by Malcolm Moore, from Springfield, and his wife Tracey, after a chance conversation about the pub with David in Lancaster last year during a meeting arranged following several years working together with the charity Friends of Chernobyl’s Children.

The Bird i’th’Hand’s re-design has an extension allowing for a large open-plan space for families and pub grub dining and a smaller drinking vault in an olde-worlde style.

The drinking room, which will be for over-18s only, will also house the remainder of the pub’s collection of old photographs of Wigan sports.

Malcolm, who remembers the pub’s heyday when his family used to drink there, says the news of the Bird i’th’Hand’s re-opening has been a very popular one in the community.

Malcolm, 49, said: “When it closed all the drinkers split up and went to other pubs in the area, but none of them have really settled anywhere, and since people have been told it’s going to be a pub again someone asks us what’s happening every single day.

“It’s always been a local community pub full of great characters, and they played such good music on Sunday afternoons that people would actually ensure they didn’t drink too much on Saturdays because they wanted to be fresh for Sunday in the pub.

“We went down to take a look at the pub with David and went into the cellar where we found a box full of old trophies, including the darts and dominoes ones. There was a ladies’ trophy there from about 1970 and I realised my mum must probably have played in that team.

“We’re trying to recycle as much as we can, but there’s lots of old photos of Brett Kenny at Wigan and scenes from the town’s history that have got too damp to use and it’s a crying shame.

“There are about six photos of football and rugby to go on the walls, and with it being so close to the stadium we are definitely hoping to be busy on match days. People can come in and have a beer and it’s only a 10-minute walk across to the stadium.”

David and Malcolm hope the refurbishment will be complete by mid-September.