On 17th September the official opening took place of Blackburn’s Sir Charles Napier. It was performed by Rob Halford of Judas Priest and was the culmination of a year-long campaign to re-open the town’s only rock pub following closure in June 2015.
I was given a sneak preview of life in the newly refurbished pub on the Friday night before its official re-opening. So Sylvia, my girlfriend, and I toddled across to the Napier and had a few beers and a mingle with various regulars and guests.
Best start to the evening for me was their selection of real ales. Appropriately for a rock pub, Robinson’s Trooper was one of their cask ales. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson created this with head brewer Martyn Weeks and it has sold millions of pints in 40 different countries. Thwaites Golden Wainwright and Hop Star’s JLS are also currently available.
We talked to lots of people in the pub. There was a good mix of younger and older people, all really happy to see the Sir Charles Napier back open once again. Some were rock music fans who would use the pub mainly to watch bands, whereas others saw the Napier as the pub which would help rejuvenate this side of the town centre’s nightlife and would bring in passing trade.
With Blakey’s, Blackburn Times, Molloy’s and the new Drummer’s Arms soon to be opening, the Napier could entice more punters out for a wander round the town centre both during the afternoon and later in the evening.
Although the battle to re-open the Napier has been won, the management committee will not allow complacency to set in. They would like to eventually buy the pub, which is still owned by Thwaites, to protect its long-term future. In the meantime they don’t intend to rest on their laurels and the hard work continues. This includes their efforts to keep bringing new people into the pub through various events and activities.
Key to this strategy is the concert room upstairs. Bookings have been taken from different groups and many have signed up to play gigs there. Hopefully this will continue into the future and help the Napier build upon the success which saw it fight a great campaign and return from the dead like a phoenix from the ashes. The future is looking good for the Napier.