One of Leyland’s oldest pubs has closed for good and is set to become a lighting showroom.
The Original Ship Inn on Towngate (above) has been waving its white flag after years of uncertainty and lack of a long-term landlord.
Sadly, the Ship has now sunk and brewery Heineken has sold the 200-year-old building to Chorley Electrical, a firm which sells lighting, heating and cables to tradespeople and the public.
The managing director of the firm says he wants to preserve the history of the site, and hopes the people of Leyland will welcome the chance to keep the building in use rather than it closing down.
But some locals have spoken of their disappointment that the once-thriving pub couldn’t make a go of it in today’s market.
Danny Hindle, landlord of the town’s Railway pub, who also owns the newly-opened Market Ale House, said: “My great-grandad was the landlord at the Ship a long time ago - Jimmy Bannister - so I think it’s sad that Leyland is losing this pub.
“It’s a great location, I always said it would have made a cracking restaurant, but it’s just market forces unfortunately.
“We’ve lost two pubs in the town in the last month or so - this one and the Waggon and Horses although we’ve gained some as well.
“The Ship has been struggling for a few years though, it was only a matter of time before it went. The brewery was looking for a tenant but nobody was willing to invest in it.
“People get sentimental about pubs; they associate them with good times and happy memories, so it’s a shame when they vanish.”
The Ship, which has been without a long-term landlord since 2012, closed a couple of weeks ago.
Coun Derek Forrest, councillor for Leyland Central, added: “It’s sad that Leyland is losing one of its old places of entertainment; I suppose there is that sorrow that it’s been a pub for so long and now it’s changing.
“But in light of people’s habits these days, you could say that Leyland actually has more pubs than it needs.
“It’s better that the Ship is being taken over by a local business instead of staying empty, so I think people will welcome it being used for something.
“I hope they can make a success of it.”
Chorley Electrical has been operating from Moss Side for 24 years, and managing director, Gerard Gallagher, wants to expand to the bigger premise in the town centre.
“Heineken wanted to sell the pub, and had no interest in it continuing being used as a pub,” he explained. “We’re going to transfer our sales counter and lighting showroom from Moss Side to the Ship building.
“It will be open for tradespeople but also the general public, and it could mean the possibility of employing more staff.
“We have four members of staff at the moment, all from Leyland, so they’ll be moving with us and we may be able to double the number of employees. I foresee it being really busy for us.”
Chorley Electrical also has branches in Chorley, Bolton and Darwen, and Mr Gallagher says the move has been welcomed in the community.
“We’ve had loads of well-wishers,” he said. “We’ve had a great response with people saying they’re glad the pub is not going to stay empty.
“That part of Leyland is a really thriving hub, it’s a great atmosphere. It’s a great location with a prominent road position and it’s more accessible than where we are now.
“Our branch in Moss Side has been very successful for the last 24 years, so I’m optimistic about the move.”
He also explained that the firm wants to respect the history of site, and won’t be making an external alterations other than with the signage.
He said: “It’s very old and has great history, so we want to preserve that.
“We actually found an old plaque in the building with information about its history, so we’re going to keep that.
“We want to maintain the heritage of the building, but it is in such a poor state so we’ve got a bit of work to do with redecorating.
“I think we’ll be open in the next three to four months.”