Published Wednesday 14 September 2016 at 11:38
The UK’s first community run rock pub will throw open its doors this Saturday (September 17) with a special guest appearance from Judas Priest’s Rob Halford.
The heavy metal front man will join the locals who set up a community company to reopen the Sir Charles Napier rock pub in Blackburn town centre as a social enterprise.
Since taking on the building in June 2016, the former regulars have refitted the pub, turning it into a music venue and adding a kitchen for food service.
The work has been funded by support from investors, Kickstarter backers, fundraising events as well as grants from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Bootstrap Enterprises and the Plunkett Foundation.
Judas Priest pioneered heavy metal in the UK, with hits such as Living After Midnight and Breakin’ the Law.
Lead singer Rob Halford who will be at Saturday’s sold out event, has supported the campaign since July last year, when he appeared online in a video encouraging rock fans to support local community venues such as the Napier.
He said: It’s great, not only for music but for the community as well – it keeps the community together. You can’t beat these kinds of venues.
Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Councillor Phil Riley said:
The Council is delighted that the Napier is finally in the hands of the community group. We have worked hard with Alex Martindale and his team and with the owners, Thwaites, to bring the pub back into use and look forward to it re-opening and helping to revive Blackburn’s night-time economy.
Throughout the campaign, the company has been taking advice from Dave Hollings of Co-Operative & Mutual Solutions.
He congratulated the team on their achievement.
There are over 40 pubs up and down the country which have been taken over by the communities that value and love them. It’s great to see the Napier joining that number.
Charlotte Foster of the Plunkett Foundation, said:
Pubs are central to the community and provide an important hub where people can meet. The long-term success rate for co-operative pubs is 100% and I wish them every success with this new venture.