Club shuts for good as debt mounts up

Committee members Mick Partington, Andrew Sowden and Shaun McDonald outside the Co-op Club on Preston New Road.
Committee members Mick Partington, Andrew Sowden and Shaun McDonald outside the Co-op Club on Preston New Road.

An historic Blackpool social club has closed its doors for good because of crippling debts.

The Co-operative Club, on Preston New Road, Marton, has cancelled all forthcoming events after it was unable to meet payments on debts of £42,000.

The Gazette reported how an emergency meeting was held in May when the committee warned members of the situation.

The club carried on operating at weekends only, but has now been forced to close completely.

The news was today branded a “shame for the whole community”.

Former secretary Andrew Sowden said: “Closure was inevitable because, looking at the figures, trading was just unsustainable.

“This committee had inherited a lot of debts and we couldn’t cover our outgoings.

“The fact is people now prefer to sit at home where they can smoke inside and drink cheap beer.”

Former club chairman Peter Searle said it was a massive loss to the community.

He said: “There were some people who had been coming to the club for 30 or 40 years, and for some it was the only place they came out to.

“It is a shame for the whole community. Unless a big investor comes forward, I can’t see it opening again.”

The club, which has a sprung dance floor, had seen membership levels dwindle from around 2,000 in its heyday to just under 300 before it closed.

Among the events cancelled are a proposed charity football tournament which was due to have been played on the club’s football field next month.

The Co-operative Group no longer has any connections with the social club, and declined to comment on the closure.

Dance floor and facilities enjoyed by generations

The Co-op Club was originally based in Victoria Street but moved to its current site in the late 1960s.

Among its facilities are a snooker room with four tables, a lounge bar, and a function room with a dance floor.

Outside there is a football pitch, two bowling greens and a war memorial.

The club originally opened to provide social facilities for Co-operative employees including workers at the nearby bakery, now the site of McDonalds on Preston New Road.

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