Veterans today told of their sadness after an historic Blackpool club set up by First World War veterans closed its doors after more than 90 years.
The Comrades Club in Adelaide Street closed on Saturday – just a week after Remembrance Sunday – with the loss of four jobs after entering administration earlier this year.
Chairman Tim Pipe said the venue was losing £40,000 a year and was struggling to turn a profit after the triple blow of the smoking ban, an ageing membership and dwindling takings.
Mr Pipe, who served in the Royal Engineers from 1977 to 1993, said when he took over the running of the committee in 2011, he found the club had suffered years of financial losses.
He said: “Twenty years ago we took £250,000 a year but this has just gone down and down. We had a big Remembrance weekend service but much of the money was eaten up by what we owe. The club can’t keep trading at a loss. We have closed the doors for now – that is a fact.”
In the 1980s and 90s the club boasted more than 1,000 members and was so popular there was a waiting list to join up.
But those numbers have now halved, with only around 50 active members attending the club each week.
Club secretary Mike Davis added: “We are not getting locals in, we are not getting the young ones in.
“Unfortunately you can get cheaper beer in supermarkets – a lot of clubs are suffering.
“It is just a sad situation.”
Mr Pipe added: “There is just no money. From my findings the club had been taking on debt for the last 10 years.
“It is part of Blackpool’s heritage.
“It is something which belongs to Blackpool.”
Mr Pipe confirmed the venue would remain open to other tenants, including a railway club and artists’ group.