‘Eyesore’ Wigan pub gets repairs in bid to attract investors

The Cross Keys in Ashton
The Cross Keys in Ashton
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An eyesore former Wigan pub could be set for a new lease of life, a councillor has revealed.

The Cross Keys Hotel in Ashton, which has long been empty, will undergo much-needed repairs and a spruce-up tomorrow, with the aim of making the building more attractive for potential investors.

With boarded up windows, flyposting and even trees and large weeds growing out of the roof, it is one of the area’s less attractive-looking buildings.

But that could change with the intervention of Coun Anthony Sykes, who has been liaising with the owner, pub giant Tony Callaghan, about how to give the premises a much-needed facelift so that plans can me made about its future.

Mr Callaghan had revealed last year that he had every intention to redevelop the site “in due course” but the plans hit stumbling blocks over rising costs.

In a previous interview with the Post, he said: “There is only so much you can spend on an empty building when it isn’t being used for anything or bringing anything in. Getting rid of a tree in a roof isn’t just a quick 50 quid: it could cost hundreds if not thousands.”

But Coun Sykes has managed to negotiate with local tradesmen to lower the costs as much as possible. He said: “I’ve been phoning around local companies to find the cheapest way to get this done.

“I was concerned about the dangers aspect. It is going to be made safe. My main concern was all the vegetation growing out of the roof. I was concerned that it could dislodge the tiles and that they’d fall.”

He added: “This is positive (for Ashton). Dare I say it, it could even get some investment into the town.

“The state it’s in, it just needs someone to invest in it, whether it’s to turned into a pub, or shops or flats.”

Over the four years since its closure, the Cross Keys has had an unsightly facade, covered in fly posters and growing vegetation.

It has been the subject of much dismay from local residents who are unhappy with its condition, given its prominent location on one of the main routes in Ashton town centre.

In an interview with the Post last year, one resident said: “This eyesore of a pub has been shut for over three years now.

“It has weeds growing outside of the building and roof.

“It still has posters on it saying ‘Opening Soon’ which have been on since it shut, believe it or not, and the website Innthebar.org does not respond.

“The residents of Ashton are sick and tired of seeing the building left in this neglected state.”

Coun Sykes, who was only elected earlier this month, will spend time helping out at the site on Bolton Road in the coming days.

He said: “It’s an historic pub. We’re not short of pubs, but we are losing them.”

Indeed, the Cross Keys is just one of several local watering holes to have vanished.

It was late in 2016 that licensing chiefs forced the closure of The New Fleece, amid complaints over live rock bands performing as late as 4am.

Proposals were put forward in November 2017 to transform the empty site into a new block of 11 apartments.