The Cob O Coal Public House stood at the heart of the New Islington development site and was to be one link to the past amidst the mix of modern new apartments and social housing. It was where the people of Ancoats have drank, socialized and in the last few decades drowned their sorrows as the many industries that once engulfed the area slowly and painfully dwindled and eventually died.
The Cob O Coal retention as mooted by the developers, Urban Splash, should have been symbolic of the enduring legacy of the people and a glowing beacon for it’s future prosperity and a central focus for the community. What is life other than mixture of up and downs, good and bad, a story that was ingrained in this pub.
However, this was not to be as is typical in development areas, the building suspiciously was set alight and sadly raised to the ground, taking with it one of the very few remaining buildings from one of the most historically important areas in human history.
On the 1st April, 2008, five fire crews were called out at 03:23hrs to the Cob O Coal Public House on Cardroom Road in Ancoats. The fire in the detached, unoccupied public house was well alight when firefighters arrived. They used jets to tackle the blaze which causeed 100% damage to the property and is thought to have been caused deliberately.
The Cob O Coal stood out amongst what was before Urban Splash intervention was called the Cardroom Estate, due it being untouched by the previous and numerous attempts at “regeneration” and social engineering. All of which provided poorly planned and ill-conceived housing and little in the way of provisions for the community.
The destruction and loss of yet another piece of Ancoats rich history is yet another indicator that town planners have yet to replicate or better the the cohesion and sense of community that many felt in what would become known as slum areas. It seems that little has been learnt and its looks inevitable that “New Islington” will fail where so many have tried in the past, because they just don’t understand the role that history and culture inform identity and cohesion.
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