Blackburn’s Molloy’s pub has been put up for sale. But despite not meeting its reserve price at auction in July, it’s still business as usual for the popular hostelry on King William Street.
Molloy’s has had a positive impact on Blackburn’s pub scene, despite it being one of our town centre’s ‘newer’ pubs. It was well-known book shop, Seed & Gabbutt’s, for many years, until bought by Irish themed pubs group, O’Neill’s. Duplicates of O’Neill’s familiar blue and yellow liveried pubs suddenly started springing up across Britain in the 1980’s and Blackburn was included.
Sadly for local CAMRA members, O’Neill’s was a real ale desert. This reflected the Emerald Isle at the time, where cask beer was also very difficult to find. But like Ireland and its own microbrewery revolution, that all changed when it became Molloy’s. Despite its Irish name, this theme bar culture was gradually squeezed out and it became a proper pub. No more trying to figure out what Fir and Mna meant on the toilet doors.
Molly’s soon became a mainstay of our town centre real ale scene and carried on flying the flag while other pubs either shut down or stopped selling cask beer. This pub is now established as one of the best in Blackburn. It is one of three, including the Napier and Postal Order, which serves food, along with real ale in the town centre, and has a good mix of young and old punters in during the day and at night.
‘Molly’s’ owner, Stonegate Pub Company, part of the Cayman Islands incorporated TDR Capital group, are also selling off many of their other interests. They are Britain’s fourth largest managed pub chain and currently own nearly 700 outlets, including Yates, Walkabout and the Slug and Lettuce restaurants. It would appear the latter may be where Stonegate may have their main focus, leading to them possibly wishing to offload some of their pubs to release funds for further investment in their prime interests.
Unfortunately Stonegate’s pub downsizing plans has had a negative effect on business, certainly at local level. Many punters think Molly’s has either shut down already, or will be doing so in the very near future. This is certainly not the case and the best way of ensuring the future of this popular friendly pub is to carry on supporting it and keep the momentum going in the rebirth of Blackburn’s pub scene.