Layton back in business!

Picture Martin Bostock'Manager of Layton Institute Gareth Urwin at the club which will be reopening on Friday.

Picture Martin Bostock'Manager of Layton Institute Gareth Urwin at the club which will be reopening on Friday.

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ONE of Blackpool’s oldest social clubs is back from the dead.

Layton Institute closed last month after members were told it was not financially viable to keep the venue going.

But just a few weeks on, and after some round-the-clock work by a hardcore group of members, the landmark club is to reopen tomorrow.

And it means the Institute, on Westcliffe Drive, will be able to celebrate its centenary later this year after all.

Delighted committee member Mark Luxton said: “It will be so good to drive down the road and see those famous doors back open.

“We’ve been able to do this thanks to a lot of hard graft from a lot of people and now we need members new and old to really get behind us and support it.”

There was talk that developers might try to buy the club after it’s closure.

But the Institute’s chairman Carl Healey and the committee were determined to keep the venue open.

They have drawn up a new business plan they believe will make the club profitable.

And members who head to the reopening at 3pm tomorrow will notice the Institute has been redecorated to give it a fresh look.

Mr Luxton added: “We obviously haven’t been able to spend massive funds but we’ve done as much as we can over the timeframe we’ve had.

“We’ve got the place tidied up, given a new lick of paint and it is now looking the relatively classy venue it used to be.

“What we have learned over the last few weeks is that the people of Layton didn’t realise what they’d lost until it had gone. Now we hope they will cherish the club and support it in large numbers. It is such a landmark building in the town and we are delighted we’ve been able to get it open again.”

Cath Hurley, of Layton Traders Association, said it is wonderful news for Layton if the Institute reopens. She said: “It has been here 100 years an nobody in Layton, whether they are residents or traders, wants it shut.

“It is an important part of the community and it is important it keeps going.

“If the members are rallying around then great, good luck to them, and it is great news.”

Earlier this year the club, which has 2,000 members, agreed to sell its bowling green to housing developers in a bid to raise funds.

Blackpool Council’s planning committee turned down the plan, but a revised application has since been submitted.

Mr Luxton said: “That is ours to develop as we wish in the future but for the time being we are going to keep it and we will take it from there.”

The Institute, which has played host to famous entertainers like Paul O’Grady and Joe Longthorne over the years, was earmarked for protected status as part of a local list of important buildings in the town being drawn up by the council.

The current building was constructed in 1925.

Before that the club was born in a bungalow on the opposite side of Westcliffe Drive at the junction with Lynwood Avenue and in 1913 it is recorded that members met in a loft above a stable.

It was the last social club in Blackpool to have its own dedicated summer season of shows and held a Christmas show annually until last year.