‘Time bomb’ restaurant which almost blew up part of Preston set to be flattened

A notorious Preston restaurant, which came close to blowing up an entire neighbourhood, is finally going to be flattened.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 20th June 2022, 4:35 pm

Plans have gone in to demolish the China House - formerly the Lime Kiln pub in Aqueduct Street - after the owners admitted it is now unsafe.

Vandalism and anti-social behaviour are being blamed for the current state of the building, which dates back as a pub to at least the 1830s.

It has been empty since 2014 after being described as a "death trap" by a health and safety inspector.

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The former Lime Kiln pub is set to be flattened.

The then owner was subsequently given the toughest sentence ever handed out in the city to a food business, including a suspended prison sentence and 200 hours community service.

Now, after standing empty and derelict for the past eight years, the property will be knocked down to make way for a new development.

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It was back in 2013 that the China House hit the headlines following a raid by emergency services and health and safety personnel.

The old pub shut down in 2008 and became the China House restaurant.

They found leaking gas bottles in the cellar next to botched electrical wiring which they described as a "ticking time bomb."

Experts said one spark could have ignited the gas and the ensuing explosion would have not only destroyed the building, but also houses for several streets around.

It could have killed multiple people and would also have shut down the West Coast mainline costing millions of pounds in suspended services.

The potential "bomb," which resulted in the business having its licence revoked, was just one of a series of worrying incidents which kept fire safety experts and council chiefs busy over the six years the building was a restaurant.

It was temporarily closed down in 2009 for breaches of fire safety regulations.

Even after it closed down there were still major issues with the property - a cannabis farm was discovered there in July 2018 and a fire broke out on the first floor in July last year.

At one time it was branded the "most problematic" of all the city's licensed premises.

It was put up for sale in 2014 for almost £400,000 and within a year the asking price had halved.

In a report to the city council last week seeking clearance to knock it down, agents for the owners said: "The site has become a target for anti-social behaviour and as such the owners are planning to demolish the building to respond to these ongoing issues.

"The building has also recently been subjected to fire damage and is considered to have become unsafe. It is currently unoccupied and is in a poor state of repair.

"Ultimately proposals will come forward for the site's redevelopment."

Prior to its time as a Chinese restaurant the property was run as the Lime Kiln pub for almost 170 years.

It was originally a Matthew Brown alehouse, but was eventually taken over by Banks's Brewery.

The pub suffered a previous explosion back in 1875 when a policeman witnessed a loud bang and saw smoke coming out of the pub's windows. It transpired a customer had thrown gunpowder on to an open fire.

If approved by the city council demolition is scheduled to begin towards the end of July and is expected to take around two weeks.