Reopening date confirmed for Cuerden Valley Park cafe after arsonist caused £250,000 in damage

Cuerden Valley Park cafe will reopen this weekend just three weeks after an arsonist set fire to the building, causing £250,000 in damage.

By Matthew Calderbank
Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 2:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 2:38 pm

Cuerden Valley Park Trust has announced that the café and visitor centre will reopen at 9.30am this Saturday (October 16).

The building has been shut for nearly three weeks after it was damaged in a fire started deliberately in the early hours of Monday, September 27.

Six fire engines rushed to the blaze where crews managed to contain the fire and stop it spreading throughout the building, built using straw bale.

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Cuerden Valley Park Trust has announced that the café and visitor centre will reopen at 9.30am this Saturday (October 16)

A 38-year-old Leyland man was arrested the following day on suspicion of arson after he was identified from CCTV footage.

He has since been released under investigation.

Cuerden Park management said they initially feared the cafe and visitor centre might have to stay closed for an extended period, but have today confirmed the cafe will open its doors this weekend.

But they said there will be a further closure in 2022 for a full repair of the fire damage, which is expected to take around 4 to 6 weeks. However, the cafe will continue to operate with temporary outdoor takeaway facilities during this period and the toilets will remain open.

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.

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

"The Trust is enormously grateful for the support and offers of help that have been received. Our insurers and contractors have pulled out all the stops to get the café open again way ahead of schedule.

"A specialist cleaning company are working long hours to sanitise and deep clean every surface ready for opening.

"Fire damaged areas have been boarded off and with a few changes to layout customers and visitors will hardly know the difference. They can look forward to the same much loved food, drink and hospitality from our fantastic staff."

Café supervisor Sarah Pickles added: "Staff can’t wait to get back to work, they have missed the customers, and have been really upset by the damage caused after all the hard work during the Covid lockdowns.”

The Trust also expressed its appreciation to Colin Shenton, the new owner of Cuerden Hall, who has offered to accommodate school field trip bookings which had to be relocated following the fire.

Mr Shenton said: "The attack on the Cuerden Valley Park Visitor Centre mustn’t be allowed to interrupt the excellent work undertaken by the Trust in its educational programmes for primary school children, so I am delighted to be able to offer immediate use of the Hall itself for the Trust, the teachers and children so these important programmes can continue uninterrupted”.

A post shared on the cafe's Facebook page says: "The news we have all been waiting for!!

"We are delighted to tell you that the cafe will be reopening on Saturday at 9.30am (no bookings as before, just turn up)

"We would like to thank you for all the support we have received during these very difficult three weeks.

"A big thank you once again to Lancashire Fire Service.

"Now time to get the cafe ready and see you all at the weekend..."