In April 2010, yet another suspicious fire ravaged and finally saw off one of the last remaining Victorian pubs in Miles Platting, the compulsory purchased Ace of Diamonds public house.
Prior to the fire, the Ace of Diamonds had been shut for 4 months as part of the compulsory purchase order by Manchester City Council who took ownership and eventually demolish the pub along with 23 other local businesses in the area.
Originally called the Bird in Hand and dating from around 1850, it was a Wilsons Brewery house until the 1990s.
Right up until the final closure, the pub remained popular and well used by the local community.
Regrettably, Manchester City Council and Hazel Blears MP who signed off on the demolition, did not see it within their vision for the area and some suspect the political allegiances of the landlord at the time, Derek Adams, may have played a part in the pubs eventual demolition. Whilst the pub was not originally within the CPO order, it was later added. Following the demolition and over three years since demolition, the land remains barren and undeveloped.
Ironically, Hazel Blears MP, the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Salford Labour MP, helped save one of Salford’s landmark historic pubs, the Ye Olde Nelson on Chapel Street, even though it was and remains closed (2011) and in a derelict state since it was gutted after a fire in 2004.
In early 2010, Hazel Blears also put her weight behind another closed Salford pub which resides on Sal. The 1970/1980s built Woolpack pub on Belvedere Road in Pendleton, Salford. Even enlisting the then government’s new pubs minisiter, John Healey MP, who commented:
“Bringing the Woolpack in Pendleton back to life, owned and run by local people is a great idea. A well run, lively and welcoming pub is at the heart of any community.”
Hazel Blears MP went on to say:
“I am delighted to see such a strong show of enthusiasm for rebuilding the Woolpack as a community pub because there is a real shortage of safe, community pubs that cater for all ages.”
“We want to keep the spirit of the old Woolpack with local people being able to have a sing-song and a knees-up, but also introduce something new. Turning the pub into a local hub that provides training opportunities in catering and hospitality so that people can get jobs would really help the community.”
“Pubs that diversify and offer more services to the community are those that are likely to thrive.”
“We need to offer more than just a pint and we believe the plans for the Woolpack could become a successful blueprint for others to follow.”
Sadly for Miles Platting, the Ace of Diamonds never had a chance to “diversify” or “offer more services to the community”, because Manchester City Council and Hazel Blears MP were adamant on stripping yet another service provider and asset from the community of Miles Platting, just has history has shown us that previous Councils have continually done over many decades.
I wonder if Labour MP, Hazel Blears ever went to the Ace of Diamonds pub in Miles Platting before she signed it off the demolition order.
Seems strange that an area blighted by similar levels of high unemployment, crime, poor housing, welfare, health and life expectancy issues as Pendleton in Salford, that she strips an already deprived and battered area of one of its few assets. How hard would it have been to incorporate a rare and popular historic community public house into the Private Finance Initiative which is supposedly going to see £160 million of public money spent on the area with money also coming from the private sector. A master plan that aims to 1,400 new homes and refurbishment a further 1,500 existing homes and yet no apparent space for the community to socialize and come together.
Eighteen months later in October 2011, the land where the Ace of Diamonds once stood for over 150 years remains untouched and undeveloped.
What a strange masterplan to forcibly destroy and erase almost all remnants of a community only to replace it with a grand vision of what you believe a community should look like! Dark echoes and the spectre of 1940 perhaps?
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