A decade of Wigan pub closures

The Vale Royal at Orrell shut last year
The Vale Royal at Orrell shut last year

Nearly a third of the pubs in Wigan have closed in the last decade, new figures show.

With nearly a quarter of the UK’s pubs taking their last orders since 2008, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) says communities suffer as small local pubs are lost.

There are now around 170 pubs and bars in Wigan, an estimated 80 fewer than in 2008, figures from the Office of National Statistics show.

The situation has been reflected across the North West, where 26 per cent of pubs and bars have closed in the last 10 years. There are now 4,460 in the region.

One of the latest to shut was the once thriving Vale Royal at Orrell. The buildings and land were snapped up at auction several weeks ago but it is not known whether the designs of the new owners involve trying to relaunch it as a hostelry or use the site for something completely different.

The ONS’s Economics of Ale report shows that there are 11,000 fewer pubs and bars nationwide than before the 2008 recession.

But the turnover of the pub industry has remained strong, as larger chains focus on bigger bars at the expense of smaller pubs.

While the number of establishments has declined, there are more employees working in pubs than there were 10 years ago.

The report suggests this may be because surviving pubs have moved into offering more labour-intensive services such as food or accommodation.

In 2008, the average pub in the UK employed five people.

Now, the figure stands at eight.

In Wigan, a similar trend has been seen, with the average pub employing six staff in 2018, up from four in 2008.

Despite this, the total Wigan pub workforce remained steady at 2,000.

Camra has called for reform to business rates and cuts in beer duty to help tackle the loss of pubs. It also wants a full review of the Pubs Code, which governs the relationship between firms which own 500 or more pubs and their tenants.

The organisation’s chief campaigns and communications officer, Tom Stainer, said: “With a quarter of pubs closing in the last decade, we need the Government to act now to save our pubs from extinction.”