Cuerden Valley Park cafe to close for months-long repairs after arson attack caused £250k in damages

A popular cafe in the grounds of Cuerden Valley Park, near Bamber Bridge, is closing for repairs after it was damaged in an arson attack last autumn.

By Matthew Calderbank
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 1:35 pm
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 10:50 am

The cafe - which is often busy with families, dog walkers and nature lovers – will close its doors on Monday, April 25 and stay shut for four to six weeks before reopening in mid-June.

During its closure, extensive repairs will be made to the cafe, which suffered around £250,000 in damages when it was torched by a suspected arsonist in late September.

Whilst work takes place, the cafe and its staff will move to a temporary base in the Walled Orchard, around 200 yards away, where it will continue to sell hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes.

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A spokesman for Cuerden Valley Park said: “Our visitor centre and café will be closed from Monday, April 25 while we carry out essential repairs on the building following a fire in September 2021.

"During this time, Cuerden View Café will be moving to a temporary home in the Walled Orchard, located off our Berkeley Drive Car Park while works are carried out.

"We are excited to show off this beautiful space where we will continue to provide refreshment for park goers.”

Dan McCarthy, Cuerden’s operations manager, added: “The café will be operating out of a modular ‘food cube’ serving hot/cold drinks, sandwiches (hot & cold) along with sweet treats from our usual local suppliers.

Whilst work takes place, the cafe will move to the Walled Orchard, just a short walk away, where it will continue to sell hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes.

"Seating will be in the form of picnic benches with cover provided by a marquee for when the weather is adverse and toilet facilities will also be provided.”

Six fire engines rushed to the blaze and crews managed to contain the fire and prevent the flames from ripping through the building, which was built using straw bale.

Fortunately no one was injured and Lancashire Police was able to arrest a suspect following CCTV enquiries. The force has been approached for an update on the arson investigation.

A 38-year-old Leyland man was arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire broke out at Cuerden View cafe on September 27, 2021

The cafe was forced to close for three weeks whilst urgent repairs were made, but management said a further closure would be needed in the spring to allow for a full repair of the fire damage to take place.

Speaking after the fire, general manager Simon Thorpe said: "Although we all feared the worst, the straw bale building performed as experts predicted, with the tightly packed dense straw proving difficult to ignite.

"But the wooden floor and structural timbers have suffered worse. Fire damaged areas have been boarded off, but with a few changes to layout, our customers and visitors will hardly know the difference.

"The damages are estimated to be in the region of £250,000, and sadly 14 staff lost three weeks wages due to the closure of the Cafe, all because of the actions of an individual.”

The cafe - which is often busy with families, dog walkers and nature lovers – will close its doors on Monday, April 25 and stay shut for six to eight weeks before reopening in June.