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Large scale of Wigan pub closures revealed

Pub closures in Wigan include the Park Hotel in Ince but publicans say the industry is changing
Pub closures in Wigan include the Park Hotel in Ince but publicans say the industry is changing

The scale of the toll tough times have taken on Wigan’s pub industry has been revealed by new figures.

A total of 35 watering holes in the borough have been lost since 2010, or 17 per cent of the total number of pubs and bars.

Jo Ashton, manageress of Wigan Central

Jo Ashton, manageress of Wigan Central

The data comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and shows the number of boozers in Wigan fell from 205 in 2010 to 170 last year.

Drinking venues which have closed their doors in recent times include the Balmoral Hotel in Hindley, The Famous Pagefield in Springfield, The Park Hotel in Ince and The Griffin Hotel in Swinley.

The trend shows no sign of abating either with recent casualties including The Amberswood Tavern and the Swan and Railway in the town centre, which is shut and in a search for a new landlord.

Those involved in Wigan’s pub trade say public tastes for a night out have changed so much time-honoured boozers are having to adapt fast.

Jo Ashton, manageress of Wigan Central, said: “The days of pub owners sitting at the end of the bar drinking with the regulars are gone.

“You’ve got to appeal to different ages and different customers. The old-style blokes’ drinking pubs are dying out, people are now going out in couples and groups of friends.

“You can embrace the traditional side of pubs but you’ve got to make it clean and neat or it looks like the place is falling to pieces.

“Some pubs are also just too big. People don’t want to drink in empty pubs.”

Dean McDonald also agreed the industry is simply altering, pointing to the rise of new micropubs.

Ian Williams has seen the industry’s ups and downs with the now-closed Griffin and the recently-renamed The New Charles Dickens.

He said: “The situation is not helped by breweries and pubcos and also how cheap beer is at supermarkets. Business rates and overheads are very high for traditional pubs.

“We’re going to see more old-style pubs go but there are some of us who won’t let the traditional pub die.”

In response to the figures the British Beer and Pub Association is calling on the Government to cut beer duty in the November budget.

Industry figures also said pubs had diversified with live music, food and coffee while the Campaign for Real Ale highlighted their role as community hubs.