Last orders for popular music night

The Minstrel pub for Property feature - Eaves Green -
The Minstrel pub for Property feature - Eaves Green -

Pub bosses have pulled the plug on a long-running Chorley music gig.

Admiral Taverns say they have reluctantly scrapped the popular Thursday nights BJ’s Blues Club at the Minstrel, Eaves Green Road, claiming the gigs are not paying their way.

Now organiser Lucas Campbell, who ran the club on a voluntary basis with his wife Heidi, says he fears for the future of live local pub music.

Just weeks ago, the club looked to be in jeopardy when the Minstrel suddenly closed overnight. But it reopened the following day with a new licensee. However Thursday’s gig appears to be the last one.

Lucas said he was now ending the club, which he described as “one of the most successful music clubs in the North of England”.

He said: “I’m just not prepared to go through the same cycle of events in any other venue the way I’m feeling at this moment. We were being judged by the last four weeks’ bar takings, which is traditionally our quietest time of year.”

He added: “I fear for the future of regular live music in local public houses which was always the grass roots and starting off point for musicians and performers and the real stomping ground for every aspiring musician wanting to learn their trade. What we are faced with now with the loss of so many pubs that catered for live music are far fewer opportunities for bands to be able to perform.

“In my opinion I feel it is wrong for musicians to be forced into a demeaning ‘pass the hat around’ situation because licensees themselves are in a cash strapped situation due to excessive brewery rentals and overheads.”

BJ’s Blues Club was formed more than a decade ago by the late Chorley music promoter Brian BJ Jeffery who wanted to bring quality musicians and bands to the Chorley area. It had a number of different homes, but spent its longest time at The Hop Pocket before BJ tragically died from motor neurone disease, aged 51, in 2008. He asked his friend Lucas to carry on the club in his memory.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but this is the last chapter in BJ’s musical odyssey,” said Lucas.

A spokesperson for Admiral Taverns, said: “We don’t really want to lose the event because it’s quite popular, but the pub wasn’t making enough to cover the costs and it wasn’t financially viable.”