Thirsty football fans have suffered another matchday blow with the closure of the Preston North End’s nearest alehouse.
The ‘New’ Deepdale Hotel, for decades wrongly believed to be the birthplace of the world famous old club, put the towels up for the last time recently after being sold for conversion to flats.
Mystery new owners are rumoured to have paid around £350,000 at auction for the St George’s Road pub which has a Grade II listed frontage.
And regulars, most of them North End supporters, were left to mourn the passing of another local “boozer” so soon after the closure of the Royal Garrison on Sir Tom Finney Way.
“It’s a crying shame,” said Barbara Orme who has lived next door to the pub for the past 43 years. “It was always busy on matchdays. But I suppose you can’t survive on one day a fortnight.
“In the old days it used to be a smashing pub. We used to go in quite a bit with the neighbours and it was always lively. But it hasn’t been doing so well of late and I suppose it’s no surprise it’s finally shut.
“We’ve heard it is being converted into flats, although there’s a rumour locally that it could also have a restaurant downstairs. Whatever they do with it, that’s another piece of history wiped away.”
The closure of the New Deepdale, formerly the Deepdale Hotel, means matchday regulars will now have to choose between the Deepdale Labour Club across the road, the Sumners up near the Army barracks, or travel even further afield.
“We’re usually quite busy on a Saturday both before and after games, but we could always do with more customers,” said a spokesman for the nearby Labour Club. “Like all pubs and clubs we are scraping along the rest of the time, keeping our heads above water. So matchdays are very important to us.
“With the Deepdale closing it will probably benefit us as we are the nearest place they can get a drink. But, with the Garrison having shut as well, there isn’t a right lot of choice.”
The Deepdale Hotel appears in the history books as the place where, in 1876, North End first made the decision to play football after years as a cricket/rugby club.
But it is now widely accepted that pub was in fact the Deepdale Bridge Hotel in Deepdale Road, a building which still stands today. The current Deepdale Hotel wasn’t even built in 1876.
A spokesman for Preston Council confirmed that the pub’s licence was surrendered on June 3. At present there has been no planning permission given for a change of use to flats.
Fans writing on the supporters’ forum PNE Online expressed disappointment that the Deepdale had closed.
“Another local bites the dust. Another sad passing,” said one. Another wrote: “Shame to see another pub disappear. That will leave just one pub in the locality of Deepdale (Stadium). Are there many grounds with so few pubs around them as Deepdale?”